SINGAPORE: Passenger movement at Changi Airport rose to nearly 40 per cent of pre-COVID levels in the end of April, more than double the 18 per cent recorded in March.
“This will grow further in the coming months as more flights and passengers return,” said Transport Minister S Iswaran on Wednesday (May 4).
He was speaking at the Changi Airline Awards, which was being held in-person at Dusir Thani Laguna after a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The increase comes as Singapore fully reopened its borders to all fully vaccinated travellers last month, under the Vaccinated Travel Framework. This also puts Singapore on track of its target to restore passenger volumes at Changi Airport to at least 50 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels by this year.
“This was, as you know a major milestone in Singapore’s journey to reopen our economy and to reconnect with the world – which is absolutely vital for a small and open city-state like ours,” said Mr Iswaran.
He also said ramping up operations at Changi was “no mean feat”, warning that we should not underestimate the “enormity of the challenge”, which was also seen in many airports around the world.
Aviation stakeholders in Changi – including the Changi Airport Group, airlines and ground handlers – have been “working assiduously to facilitate smooth airport operations”, he added.
“I know the ramp up has and continues to pose significant challenges given the speed, and also the scale and complexity of operations at a global air hub like Changi. I also know our aviation partners are doing their level best and going to extraordinary lengths to get the job done.
“You have the Government’s full support. I am confident that by working together as one aviation ecosystem, we will bring back the distinctive and seamless experience that is the hallmark of Changi.”
GOVERNMENT COMMITMENT TO RECOVERY
Mr Iswaran said that the Government is committed to the strong recovery of the Changi Air Hub, highlighting the measures it implemented in response to the pandemic.
This includes wage and training support to protect jobs and “preserve core capabilities” and disbursing cost relief for landing and parking charges, as well as rental costs.
The Government also doubled down on its investment in digitalisation and automation to “transform the sector and more importantly, to be better prepared for the future and build back better”, he said.
“The support and resources invested have helped to avert significant, even irreversible, economic scarring for our business and leisure sector.
“It has helped to keep our workforce productive, and enabled the sector to rebound quickly.”
However, Mr Iswaran noted that it is important for Changi to thrive in the post-pandemic world, beyond the immediate recovery efforts.
“We must not only preserve our previous links or restore our previous links, but go beyond to expand the network, densify schedules, and forge new partnerships with airlines,” he said.
He added that he was encouraged by the establishment of two new passenger city links to Vancouver and Bahrain, as well as the inclusion of seven new passenger airlines, in the past year despite the pandemic.
As at May 1, 82 airlines operate more than 3,300 weekly scheduled flights at Changi Airport, connecting Singapore to about 125 cities in 47 countries and territories.
“In the post-pandemic world, we will need to redouble our efforts as one united ecosystem to push the frontiers of excellence, and enhance Changi’s status as a world-class international aviation hub,” said Mr Iswaran.
On the air cargo front, volumes and flights “remained resilient”, as average aircraft movements tripling and Singapore welcoming six scheduled freighter operators.
Meanwhile, DHL Express and Fedex have also expanded their intercontinental network in Singapore to “serve the robust demand in the region”.
“We will continue to work with the air cargo community to develop new growth levers, such as multimodal connectivity, and accelerate digital transformation and information sharing in our ecosystem,” Mr Iswaran said.
“I am confident that more opportunities lie ahead for Changi to bring value to cargo customers, amid ongoing disruptions to global supply chains and the expansion of e-commerce.”