It is welcome news that the strong recovery in air travel has meant that Singapore is already nearing the passenger traffic target it originally hoped to reach only by the end of the year. That recovery is expected to gain momentum with the upcoming June holidays and the start of the summer travel period overseas. With passenger traffic now averaging above 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, Singapore has rapidly neared its target of 50 per cent - a goal it aimed to reach by the end of the year. The Government will reassess the target after the expected wave of travellers in June. Meanwhile, Changi Airport is looking to hire more than 6,600 workers in preparation for the take-off. This large number reflects the need to make up for the air transport sector's loss of about a quarter to a third of airport workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Bringing back the workforce and gearing up operational systems are challenges that Changi will have to overcome so that it can have capacity to handle expected volumes - without a decline in service standards.
Clearly, threats persist on the global horizon. Apart from the prospects of a new strain of Covid-19 interrupting the recovery in air travel, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has flagged the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine. It said in a March report that the war, which had just begun, its resulting sanctions and airspace closures would affect travel. The Ukraine market accounted for 3.3 per cent of European passenger traffic and 0.8 per cent of global traffic last year. The Russian international market represented 5.7 per cent of European traffic (excluding the Russian domestic market) and 1.3 per cent of global traffic last year. Iata also said that the sudden spike in fuel prices was putting pressure on airline costs.