MP Louis Chua

Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis asked the Minister for Transport given passenger traffic at Changi Airport in June 2022 has reached the target of 50% of pre-pandemic levels, whether the Government has reassessed passenger traffic targets for end- 2022 and 2023 and, if so, what are they.

The Minister for Transport (Mr S Iswaran): Madam, may I take Question Nos 15 and 16 together?

Mdm Deputy Speaker: Please go ahead.

Mr S Iswaran: As of the first week of July 2022, weekly passenger traffic at Changi Airport had recovered to about 55% of 2019’s average weekly levels. This is on the back of weekly passenger services by airlines recovering to more than 50% of pre-COVID-19 levels. Changi Airport is also connected to 108 cities by passenger flights as of July 2022, which is more than 65% of the number of cities it was connected to before the pandemic.

The pattern of recovery across the world has been uneven. Air hubs in regions such as Europe, North America and the Middle East, which reopened their borders earlier, have seen a faster recovery. International passenger traffic at the Middle Eastern air hubs of Dubai, Doha and Istanbul had recovered to more than 90% of their pre-COVID-19 levels even before June 2022. The connectivity at these hubs, in terms of international city links, is also at 90% or more of pre-COVID-19 levels as of June 2022.

Within the Asia Pacific region, Changi Airport is leading the recovery. As of June 2022, compared to the major Asia Pacific air hubs such as Incheon, Hong Kong and Bangkok, Changi Airport is ahead in terms of both international passenger traffic and city links vis-a-vis pre-COVID-19 levels.

Demand for air travel remains fundamentally strong. We expect the recovery at Changi Airport to continue and to gather pace when key markets in Northeast Asia, including Mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan, fully reopen their borders.

To ensure that Changi Airport will be ready to manage the anticipated traveller flows, the Changi Airport Group has announced that it will reopen Terminal 4 from 13 September and commence departure operations in the southern wing of Terminal 2 from October. This will enable the airport to handle up to pre-COVID-19 passenger traffic levels, or about 70 million passengers per annum, which represents about 80% of Changi Airport’s pre-COVID-19 capacity.

To support this ramp up in capacity, our aviation stakeholders are also working hard to build up their manpower and restore the traveller experience that Changi Airport is renowned for.

With the efforts and support of the entire aviation community and our partners, we will be ready to welcome more passengers and airlines back to Singapore and ultimately, restore Changi Airport’s position as a pre-eminent global air hub.

Mdm Deputy Speaker: Mr Louis Chua.

Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis (Sengkang): I thank the Minister for the response. Just one supplementary question, which is essentially my Parliamentary Question, in terms of the target passenger numbers for this year as well as next year. 

I ask that also because I think the STB has put up a visitor arrivals target of about four to six million this year versus 1.5 million in the first half of the year. That would enable the various supply chain partners to better project their own internal capacities to plan ahead should there be a faster than expected ramp up in passengers coming through.

Mdm Deputy Speaker: Minister.

Mr S Iswaran: Madam, I thank the Member for his question. As I said, it is difficult to set the target at this stage of our recovery for the total volume of passengers that can come in. The reason is simply because the source markets are at different stages of managing the recovery from COVID-19. Key markets like China, Japan and Northeast Asia in general are still working their way through. We are not sure when exactly and how exactly they will make further changes.

With that in mind, having set an initial 50% target which has now been well and truly met and exceeded, our focus now is to prepare our aviation ecosystem and Changi Airport, in particular, for a potential volume of about 70 million, which is at about the level that it was pre-COVID-19. And it is about 80% or so of the pre-COVID-19 capacity of Changi Airport. 

That in itself is no mean feat. What it means is we have to now further ramp up manpower and, as I have shared with Members before, we have had an attribution of about one-third of the workforce in the aviation ecosystem on the course of COVID-19. Recovering from that, not just in terms of recruitment but in terms of making sure that the manpower is operationally ready, is a major challenge. One only has to consider the experience in many other airports around the world to appreciate the enormity of the task.

Ministry of Transport
2 August 2022

%d bloggers like this: