Passenger traffic through S'pore's Changi Airport at 31% of pre-pandemic levels

400,000 air passengers passed through Singapore in the week ending on April 17, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - The number of travellers passing through Changi Airport in the past week has reached 31 per cent of the average weekly passenger traffic in 2019, traffic before the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was a marked increase from the 18 per cent mark a month ago, with the air hub's recovery now picking up pace following a broad reopening of Singapore's borders on April 1 to all travellers fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The growth in traffic shows the Republic is on track to achieve its target of restoring half of pre-Covid-19 passenger volume by the end of this year, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) on Monday (April 18).

It said that 400,000 air passengers passed through Singapore in the week ending on Sunday.

"Traffic volume increased for all major markets, with particularly strong growth for traffic to and from Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand," CAAS added.

"Direct traffic increased for both international and local travellers, with Singapore citizens and permanent residents making up 32 per cent of the total direct traffic."

CAAS also said that the number of passenger flights to and from Singapore in the last week has increased to 38 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. This is up from 29 per cent a month ago.

It added that the frequency of flights between Singapore and countries such as Australia and India has increased significantly.

Air New Zealand, Myanmar Airways International, and Batik Air Indonesia have restarted scheduled passenger flights to Singapore. 

Meanwhile, air links were recently re-established with five cities - Cairns, Da Nang, Kota Kinabalu, Madurai, and Riyadh.

CAAS director-general Han Kok Juan said: "We are seeing good air travel recovery and expect numbers to further increase, especially in the upcoming May Day-Hari Raya Puasa long weekend and the June school holiday season.

"We... advise travellers to come to the airport early and to cater more time for departure check-in and arrival baggage collection."

To help ramp up recruitment in the aviation sector, CAAS will organise a sectorwide careers promotion and recruitment event on May 27 and 28.

The OneAviation Careers event, which will be held at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, will include career talks showcasing offerings in aviation and related sectors.

About 15 companies, including Singapore Airlines, Sats, dnata, Changi Airport Group and Rolls Royce, will exhibit at the event.

Visitors will also be able to sign up for on-site interviews conducted by employers.

Three million passengers passed through Changi Airport in 2021. This was just 4.4 per cent of the 68 million passenger movements registered in 2019, before the pandemic.

In the first two months of this year, 1.42 million passenger movements were registered - 13 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers for the same period in 2019.

Since then, CAAS has made several moves to make air travel less cumbersome.

Travellers from all countries who are vaccinated against Covid-19 can now enter Singapore quarantine-free, as opposed to just those arriving from countries under the now-defunct Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme.

CAAS has removed an on-arrival Covid-19 test requirement, and is looking into removing a pre-departure Covid-19 test requirement.

The Singapore Tourism Board has also announced initiatives in a bid to lure more tourists back.

Close to half a billion dollars has been set aside to kick-start Singapore's tourism sector and bring travellers back as the Covid-19 pandemic comes under control and borders reopen.

Independent aviation analyst Brendan Sobie from consultancy Sobie Aviation said the recovery in air traffic figures is in line with expectations given the broader reopening and the pent-up demand for international air travel. 

He said the trend of a faster recovery in outbound and transit traffic is likely to continue given the continued challenges Singapore has had in attracting inbound leisure traffic.

Mr Sobie added: “There is still room to improve load factors as about four out of every 10 seats on flights to and from Singapore remain empty. 

“This indicates supply is still well ahead of demand even for a peak travel week.”

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