Passenger traffic at Changi Airport fell 82.8% last year

Freight volume and commercial aircraft traffic also affected by Covid-19 pandemic

The airport was hit hardest during the circuit breaker months of April and May.
The airport was hit hardest during the circuit breaker months of April and May.PHOTO: ST FILE

Changi Airport saw an 82.8 per cent drop in passenger traffic last year, according to statistics published yesterday on the airport group's website. Passenger traffic dropped from 68.3 million passenger movements through the airport in 2019 to 11.8 million in 2020.

The airport was hit hardest during the circuit breaker months of April and May. During that period, there was a 99.5 per cent drop in passenger traffic, compared with the same period in 2019. The situation is improving slightly, however, with the drop decreasing in severity towards the end of the year when traffic dropped by 97.6 per cent in December.

The steep decline comes after several years of steady growth in passenger traffic, with annual increases recorded since 2016.

Freight volume and commercial aircraft traffic were also affected.

In the same set of statistics, the Changi Airport Group recorded a 23.3 per cent drop in freight movement from around 20 million tons in 2019 to 15.4 million tons in 2020.

However, there was already a small drop from 2018 to 2019, signalling that the Covid-19 pandemic may not be entirely to blame.

Commercial airline traffic, on the other hand, saw a more marked drop of 67.2 per cent - from 382,000 movements through Changi in 2019 to 125,000 in 2020.

These statistics underscore the major headwinds the airline industry is facing worldwide.

Locally, last year saw Singapore Airlines (SIA) post its biggest quarterly loss of $2.3 billion for the July to September period as revenue plunged around 81 per cent year on year to $784 million.

The International Air Transport Association, of which SIA is a member, projected last June that airlines were expected to lose US$84.3 billion (S$111.8 billion) in 2020 for a net loss of 20.1 per cent. It also said the Asia-Pacific was expected to be the hardest hit as it was the first to feel the brunt of the pandemic.

  • 11.8m

    Passenger movements in 2020, down 82.8 per cent from 68.3 million in 2019

    67.2%

    Drop in commercial airline traffic from 382,000 movements through Changi in 2019 to 125,000 in 2020

    $2.3b

    Singapore Airlines' loss for the July to September period last year

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2021, with the headline 'Passenger traffic at Changi Airport fell 82.8% last year'. Subscribe