Changi Airport passenger numbers rebound in 2022

December was the busiest month with 4.62 million passengers passing through Changi Airport. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - About 32.2 million passengers passed through Changi Airport in 2022, which is nearly half the passenger traffic for the airport in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.

A total of 219,000 flights – 57.2 per cent of the 382,000 flights in 2019 – also took off or landed at the airport, according to the latest figures released by Changi Airport Group (CAG) on Tuesday.

December was the busiest month, with 4.62 million passengers passing through Changi Airport. This is 72 per cent of the passenger traffic in December 2019. 

In the week between Dec 12 and Dec 18 alone, a little more than a million passengers or 82 per cent of the weekly average traffic in 2019 were handled at the airport. 

In December 2022, 25,400 flights – more than three-quarters of the number before the Covid-19 pandemic – landed or took off at Changi Airport.

Changi Airport’s top five passenger markets for the year were Australia, followed by Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Thailand. With South-east Asia seeing a strong recovery in passenger traffic, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Jakarta were Changi Airport’s three busiest routes, similar to 2019.

Among Changi’s top 10 markets, passenger traffic from South Korea in December 2022 exceeded pre-Covid-19 levels. This was partly due to additional capacity from Changi’s airline partners, including new airlines T’way Air and Air Premia on the Singapore-Seoul route, and Scoot plying the new Singapore-Jeju route, said CAG.

In the first week of 2023, 5,600 flights connecting Singapore to 143 cities in 48 countries and territories worldwide were recorded. This is 82 per cent of Changi Airport’s pre-pandemic connectivity.

Mr Lim Ching Kiat, executive vice-president of air hub and cargo development at CAG, said: “Changi Airport community’s efforts have paid off – the airport is now leading the Asia-Pacific region in travel recovery. The reopening of Terminals 2 and 4 has helped restore airport capacity to cater to the strong travel demand. 

“Notwithstanding near-term challenges such as global economic uncertainty and inflationary pressures, we are confident that we will be able to progressively restore Changi Airport’s connectivity and traffic to pre-Covid-19 levels.”

Mr Mayur Patel, head of Asia at global travel data provider OAG Aviation, attributed the “strong” performance to Singapore being one of the first Asian countries to reopen in April 2022, and the Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme in place prior to that.

Independent analyst Brendan Sobie of Sobie Aviation said there was a lot of uncertainty at the start of 2022, and expectations for passenger and flight traffic remained low when borders had yet to reopen.

However, recovery started picking up faster than expected due to the rapid reopening of countries as well as pent-up demand, he said.

“But these figures are not a surprise, as it has been clear since November that Changi would end 2022 at 32 million, making it easily the largest international airport in Asia-Pacific in terms of international passenger traffic,” he added.

Going into 2023, Mr Sobie expects passenger traffic to gradually increase and reach 80 per cent of 2019’s level in the next few months, partly due to the reopening of China.

Noting that the recovery between China and Singapore will be gradual, he said: “While more China flights are being added, which is encouraging, they are still at a very small fraction of the pre-Covid-19 levels.”

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