Record year for Changi Airport with 54.1 million passengers, but little growth

Changi Airport handled a record 54.1 million passengers last year, the highest in over three decades. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Changi Airport handled a record 54.1 million passengers last year, the highest in over three decades. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Changi Airport handled a record 54.1 million passengers last year, the highest in over three decades, though growth was minimal.

With airlines, especially budget carriers, cutting flights to reduce overcapacity in the region, total traffic grew by just 0.7 per cent year-on-year.

Except for 2009 when air traffic was hit by a global financial crisis, Changi has never seen growth of under 2.7 per cent in the past decade.

Overall, it was a "resilient performance in a challenging year" Changi Airport Group said on Thursday as it released its annual numbers.

Cargo volumes were stable at 1.84 million tonnes but aircraft movements dipped slightly by 0.7 per cent to 341,390 take offs and landings.

The airport's busiest day last year was the Saturday before Christmas when 186,500 passengers passed through.

But it was not enough to pull December's numbers up and in the end, a total of 5.09 million passengers were handled, a year-on-year drop of 0.7 per cent.

Travel to and from Thailand and China continued to show signs of recovery, registering a year-on-year increase of 6.6 per cent and 1 per cent respectively in December, the third consecutive month of passenger traffic growth for both countries.

Indonesia continued to be Changi's top country market last year, accounting for more than 7.5 million passengers, followed by Malaysia, Australia, Thailand and China.

As for busiest routes, the top 10 destinations remained unchanged with Jakarta, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Manila taking the top five spots.

During the year, Changi welcomed six new carriers, including MIAT Mongolian Airlines and Uzbekistan Airways.

It also won 24 best airport awards during the year, including Business Traveller's Best Airport in the World award for the 27th straight year

Changi Airport Group's chief executive officer, Lee Seow Hiang, said: "2014 was a challenging year for the aviation industry, especially in South-east Asia. Several unforeseen events depressed travel demand, creating a difficult operating environment for many airlines in the region."

To help airlines and other partners cope with tough times, the airport rolled out a $100-million assistance package last year.

Mr Lee said: "We are hopeful that 2015 will be a better year for aviation in the region. Travel demand is recovering steadily for markets like Thailand and China. Lower fuel costs will also help to alleviate cost pressures for airlines."

The year has started well for Changi Airport, with Air New Zealand re-commencing its services to Singapore, he said and added: "As we announce more new airlines and destinations in the coming months, we stand ready to work with our airline and industry partners to capture growth opportunities and strengthen Changi Airport's air hub position."

karam@sph.com.sg