Air passenger volume can reach 50 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels this year: CAAS

From next year to 2025, Singapore will seek to reclaim its position and build back stronger, said CAAS. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Singapore is planning for air passenger volume to recover to 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by this year, up from 15 per cent now.

Announcing this forecast on Monday (March 7), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) director-general Han Kok Juan said the country will start to open its borders more broadly, and travel will return to what it used to be pre-Covid-19 for vaccinated travellers.

"We will optimise the use of the airport terminals, simplify immigration checks, testing and other safe management protocols, and work with the sector to ramp up operations and manpower to ensure a safe and smooth Changi experience as traffic returns," he said.

Mr Han, who was delivering the opening address at the Aviation Safety Forum to about 200 industry leaders, said this year will be the year of recovery for the aviation sector, barring unforeseen circumstances.

He referenced a plan announced by the Government last month to open up borders broadly to those vaccinated against Covid-19 after the public health situation has stabilised.

On the air hub's medium-term prospects, he cited industry group International Air Transport Association's forecast that air travel can fully recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2025.

From next year to 2025, Singapore will seek to reclaim its position and build back stronger, added Mr Han. This will be done through working together with the industry to grow networks, build capacity, enhance resilience and develop capabilities.

He also said that aviation's long-term prospects beyond 2025 remain bright.

"Covid-19 and climate change concerns will dampen growth, but long-term air travel demand remains robust, underpinned by strong economic fundamentals, the rise of Asia and a growing middle class," said Mr Han.

"The (aviation) sector will bounce back strongly as it has done through past crises like 9/11."

Singapore's plans for its aviation sector will, however, come to nought if the country registers a major accident or serious safety incident, said Mr Han.

Mr Han cited Singapore's strong safety regime, strong safety culture and strong safety leadership as three safeguards to ensure aviation safety.

He said the commitment to strong safety leadership was reaffirmed on Monday with the launch of the Charter for a Strong and Positive Safety Culture in Singapore at the Aviation Safety Forum.

Eighty aviation organisations, including major airlines and aircraft manufacturers, have signed the charter so far.

CAAS said in a statement on Monday that an aviation safety culture survey it conducted between April 15 and June 25 last year found that the safety culture among companies and workers remains strong.

More than 1,300 workers in the sector took part in the survey.

CAAS said the survey identified some specific areas of improvement, including the need to reinforce an environment where staff feel safe to report mistakes made.

The authority is following up with the companies on the areas of improvement.

Mr Han said: "Aviation safety must be a non-negotiable and the top priority of the Singapore aviation sector as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and ramp up operations."

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