SINGAPORE - More than 80 per cent of flights between Singapore and mainland China have been cancelled since the coronavirus outbreak, and passenger traffic from other regions has also started to fall, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said on Tuesday (Feb 18).
"The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on our air hub is significant," said the ministry.
"There are now fewer than 80 services per week (between Singapore and mainland China), compared with over 400 prior to the outbreak."
Chinese passengers had previously made up around 10 per cent of the passenger traffic at Changi Airport, but their numbers plunged drastically after enhanced travel restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus kicked in.
In spite of the reduced demand, national carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) has continued to fly to the key cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing, as many Singaporeans still work and live in China, the MOT said.
It was responding to queries from the media about the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on Singapore's air hub.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, in his Budget speech on Tuesday, said that the aviation sector, along with tourism, were the two industries most directly affected by the outbreak.
Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, announced a $112 million package aimed at helping the aviation sector tide through the outbreak.
The package will be co-funded by the Government, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport Group (CAG).
Assistance will be provided for a six-month period and aims to give immediate relief to companies affected by the outbreak, as its impact is expected to grow, with the MOT noting that passenger traffic from other regions has started to decline.
On Feb 6, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan described the reduction in numbers from other markets as marginal, with traffic still coming in from Europe and India, among other places.
On Tuesday, Singapore Airlines welcomed the aid package.
But it added that the growing scale of the Covid-19 outbreak poses significant challenges to the SIA Group, which also comprises SilkAir and Scoot.
SIA added that the group has made adjustments across its network due to lower demand for air travel, and that it will continue to respond to the challenges posed by the outbreak.
The airline on Tuesday disclosed that more than 700 SIA and SilkAir flights between Singapore and countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany and the United States between March and May had been cancelled due to weak demand.
Changi Airport Group said it was working closely with its partners and would announce more details on the support measures when available.