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Changi pulls in 4.3 million travellers

Publication Date : 26-04-2012


Singapore's Changi Airport handled 4.28 million passengers last month, making it the busiest March it has had in 31 years.

That number of passengers was 15.3 per cent higher than that for March last year, making for the highest year-on-year increase in two years.

Industry observers expect the upward climb in figures to continue, fuelled by more flights lined up by existing carriers, as well as new ones taking off.

Figures for the first quarter were equally rosy. The Changi Airport Group said the first three months of the year ended with a total passenger haul of 12.3 million, almost 13 per cent more than the January to March period of last year.

This growth is higher than what some of Changi's rivals, including airports in Bangkok, Hong Kong and South Korea, have posted.

And as the number of passengers increased, so did the number of flight movements. Last month, air traffic controllers handled 27,000 take-offs and landings, 10.6 per cent more than in March last year.

Changi said the growth in traffic numbers is mainly on the back of strong regional traffic.

Even as low-cost carriers like Jetstar, Tiger Airways, AirAsia, Cebu Pacific and Lion Air continued to add flights and destinations to their schedules in recent months, full-service carriers also grew their networks.

SilkAir, the regional arm of Singapore Airlines (SIA), started flying to Darwin, Australia last month; on Tuesday, it launched flights to Wuhan, the capital city of China's Hubei province.

Together, SIA and SilkAir account for about 40 per cent of Changi Airport's total capacity by seat numbers.

Short-haul traffic aside, travel between Singapore and the Middle East and between Singapore and Europe is also picking up, the airport said.

Another trend is that airlines are flying bigger aircraft here, bringing more people through Changi.

In flying the Airbus 380 here, Air France has become the fourth carrier to do so, after SIA, Lufthansa and Qantas.

When the airline announced the launch of the service which started this month, Paul Rombeek, who oversees the Singapore and other regional markets, said: "We are confident in Singapore's potential and aim to capitalise on the good market conditions. Air France aims to strengthen its position in Asia and Singapore is a key travel hub in South- east Asia and the Pacific."

Buzz is expected in the next few months to centre on Scoot, SIA's new budget arm, ahead of its launch. The carrier will launch its maiden Singapore-Sydney flight on June 4; this will be followed a week later by flights to Gold Coast, in a new direct link between Changi and Australia's vacation strip.

Scoot flies to Bangkok from July, and to Tianjin in north China from August.

CTC Travel spokesman Alicia Seah said: 'I don't see a slowdown in the momentum. Singaporeans are travelling more, especially on short-haul trips, and we're also seeing strong in-bound traffic.

"We already have queries coming in for Gardens by the Bay."

The first phase of Singapore's new complex of three waterfront gardens, opening on June 29, is expected to pull in five million visitors a year.


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