betty July 31, 2022

SINGAPORE – The number of passengers that passed through Changi Airport in June exceeded half of pre-pandemic figures for the first time, meeting the 50 per cent year-end target that had been set for the industry earlier this year.

Some 2.9 million passengers departed, transferred or arrived on flights in Changi Airport in June, compared with 5.8 million in June 2019, according to latest figures released by the Changi Airport Group (CAG) on Sunday (July 31).

A total of 18,400 flights also took off or landed at the airport. This is 58.6 per cent of the 31,391 flights in June 2019.

Observers said the second half of the year should be even better for Changi Airport, with more people travelling despite some countries reporting new waves of Covid-19 infections, and airlines including national carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) ramping up capacity.

The knock-on impact will also benefit the larger tourism sector and the overall economy, even if East Asian markets remain a drag on recovery, they added.

Independent analyst Brendan Sobie of Sobie Aviation said: “50 per cent was always a conservative estimate. We will continue to see a bit of growth every month.”

Changi Airport’s performance in June comes on the back of a strong second quarter, where total passenger traffic was at 43.6 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels, and 14 times the number recorded in the same April – June period last year.

This was mainly due to the holiday season and the reopening of many countries in the region from April..

CAG said its rebound is driven strongly by passenger traffic to and from the Americas, which is already 7 per cent higher than in 2019 after additional flights to Canada were added last December.

Connections to regions outside East Asia including Europe, Oceania and South Asia have also crossed the 60 per cent mark this quarter. A total of 85 airlines now fly from Changi Airport to 130 cities worldwide.

Just two weeks ago, SIA also posted its June operating results, which showed that its passenger numbers in June had reached 60 per cent of pre-Covid-19 numbers.

Flights are also more well booked. Its June load factor, a measure of the number of seats filled per plane, was 85.5 per cent – comparable to the 86.2 per cent load factor in June 2019.

Asia’s airports and airlines have seen exponential recovery since many of their home countries opened borders and dropped the bulk of their Covid-19 restrictions in April.

According to data from aviation intelligence firm Cirium seen by The Straits Times, while Asia’s airports are still operating at much lower volumes than those in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East, the restoration of some Asian airlines’ capacity is fast catching up with or have exceeded their counterparts elsewhere.