Coronavirus: Passenger traffic at Changi Airport dips 25 per cent in first 2 weeks of February

The coronavirus outbreak, which worsened from late January, had reversed a promising start to the year for Changi Airport. ST PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

SINGAPORE - Total passenger traffic at Changi Airport dipped by more than 25 per cent in the first two weeks of February compared to the same period last year, as demand for air travel plunged amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

Traffic between China and Singapore alone dropped by more than 85 per cent, Changi Airport Group (CAG) said on Tuesday (Feb 25) in a statement announcing its operating indicators for the the start of this year.

"Air travel demand began to be impacted as the Covid-19 situation worsened in China and the rest of the region," CAG said.

"The impact was amplified by the Lunar New Year travel peak which occurred in February last year."

CAG also said the number of flights between Singapore and mainland China has plummeted by 90 per cent.

There were about 40 weekly flights to fewer than 10 cities in mainland China as of Feb 14, down from about 400 weekly flights to 36 locations previously.

The coronavirus outbreak, which worsened from late January, had reversed a promising start to the year for Changi Airport.

The airport had handled 5.95 million passengers last month, an increase of 5.2 per cent compared to the same period last year.

"Passenger movements for the month of January saw growth in all regions.

"This was contributed by travel around the Chinese New Year which was on Jan 25 this year, compared to Feb 5 in 2019," said CAG.

Meanwhile, aircraft movements had risen by 2.2 per cent to 33,400 landings and take-offs in January.

But airfreight throughput declined 8.4 per cent to 157,000 tonnes for the month.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said during the Budget announcement last week that the aviation sector, together with the tourism sector, are the industries most directly affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The sector will be getting a $112 million package to help defray business costs and protect jobs, with assistance provided for a six-month period.

CAG said on Tuesday that it will run promotions to support shops and restaurants in the public areas of the airport during this period of weakened demand.

The promotions include three-hour free parking during all timings at both Changi Airport and Jewel Changi Airport with a minimum spend of $10, and a gift card for spending certain sums with Mastercard.

Visitors to Jewel Changi Airport will also be allowed to access the Canopy Park attraction for free from Thursday without having to pay a $5 entry fee.

They will also get to enjoy 50 per cent off admission tickets to attractions at the park, as well as the Changi Experience Studio.

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