Passenger traffic at Changi hits 26m in 1st half

SINGAPORE - Total passenger traffic at Changi Airport for the first half of this year was 5 per cent up on the same period last year.

It hit 26.2 million, new figures show. However, the overall trend is a slowdown from the booming 2010 to 2012 period, when growth jumped by as much as 13 per cent.

This was fuelled by low-cost carriers like Jetstar and Tigerair pushing aggressively to grow market share.

Before 2010, the annual average growth hovered at below 5 per cent.

Budget airlines are continuing to expand but the pace has moderated, analysts said. Airlines like Tigerair, for instance, are now more focused on boosting profits and shareholder value instead of just growing traffic.

Weak markets in Europe and a general slowdown in the premium sector has also affected the business of Singapore Airlines (SIA) and other premium long-haul carriers that fly here.

SIA carried more than 9 million passengers in the first six months of the year, 2.6 per cent more than last year.

Changi's half-year scorecard is in line with rival airports. Hong Kong's, for example, grew its January to June traffic by 4.7 per cent to 28.9 million passengers.

Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi handled 21.3 million international passengers during the same time, up 5.2 per cent from the year before.

Mr Brendan Sobie, a Singapore-based analyst at the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, said that while traffic numbers fluctuate depending on market sentiment and other factors, Changi should end the year with single-digit growth.

He said: "Capacity is still being added, for example, to Myanmar. With more flights opening up between Singapore and Indonesia, we will also see numbers picking up there."

SIA has also announced that from the end of October, it will increase the number of flights to the Indian capital city of New Delhi from two to three a day.

The additions are unlikely to push overall numbers into the double-digit realm though, he said. On the flip side, the traffic slowdown should give Changi Airport some room as it ramps up capacity to cater to long-term growth, analysts said.

Work has started on Terminal 4 which will open in 2017, and there are plans to build a third runway to handle more plane movements.

From January to June, Changi Airport's air traffic controllers handled 166,800 take-offs and landings, a 4.6 per cent year-on- year rise.


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