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A Singapore Airlines A380 coming in to land in Los Angeles. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Singapore’s Changi Airport Observes Surge In Passengers

Singapore’s Changi Airport has revealed its traffic at the end of 2021, which was about 15% of pre-pandemic levels. Compared to early 2021, the passenger capacity was only 3% of pre-pandemic levels. The international travel hub believed the passenger traffic will improve this year. However, the airport will need to take several years to recover.

According to Changi’s website, the airport handled 68.3 million in 2019, but the passenger capacity plummeted to 11.8 million in 2020.

Singapore has been seeing a surge in travelers by the end of 2021, thanks to the government’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) and Air Travel Pass (ATP) program, allowing some countries and regions’ citizens to travel to Singapore without quarantine, such as the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Germany and France.

Since the pandemic has begun, Singapore’s aviation industry has been facing a severe impact. Hong Kong, — Singapore’s main rival — has experienced the same problem, which is a lack of domestic air travel.

According to Singapore Airlines, the VTL has supported demand for air travel to Singapore. In response to the surge in demand, the flag carrier has resumed Airbus A380 operations to London and Sydney in November and December respectively.

“Our goal is to restore quarantine-free travel with more countries and regions as allowed for by the public health assessment,” S. Iswaran, Transport Minister of Singapore, said.

With the Omicron raging through the world, the Singapore government sounded the alarm as the ticket sales for all designated VTL are suspended until Jan. 20.

There is growing concern about the virus coming into the country after reopening the border. According to the government, over 220,000 travelers have entered Singapore via the VLT program, but less than 1% of travelers tested positive for Covid-19 on their arrivals.  Meanwhile, about 2,600 Omicron cases have been imported into the country thus far, making up about 60% of the total cases in the country. Additionally, 32% of cases came from the U.S. and U.K., and another 10% came from India.

Airport Competition

In addition, the vibrant hub is committed to opening the border despite the Omicron cases surging.

“As part of living with Covid-19, Singapore must shift to a new setting that will enable us to stay connected to the world,”  Isawaran said when discussing that the VLT is important to Singapore, allowing foreign travelers to enter the country without obstacles

Singapore’s Changi Airport is best known for being the world’s best airport for eight years in a row. However, Changi Airport was defeated by Doha, Qatar’s Hamad International Airport and Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport — ranking third in 2021.

Also, there is competition with airports in neighboring countries. Earlier, Indonesia revealed its ambition, going to partner with Indian and French airport operators to compete with Changi and Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

“It is important that we mount a systemic response to preserve our competitiveness as an international hub,” Iswaran added, to the competition with other airports.

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