Changi Airport handled record 54m passengers last year

Changi Airport handled a record 54.1 million passengers last year - the highest figure in 33 years - but growth was minimal.

With airlines, especially budget carriers, cutting flights to reduce overcapacity in the region, total traffic grew by just 0.7 per cent year-on-year.

Except for 2009 when air traffic was hit by a global financial crisis, Changi had never before this seen growth of under 2.7 per cent in the past decade.

Changi Airport Group, in releasing its annual numbers in a statement yesterday, said it was overall a resilient performance in a challenging year. Cargo volumes were stable at 1.84 million tonnes, but aircraft movements dipped by 0.7 per cent to 341,390 take-offs and landings.

Despite the challenges, this year should be better, said the airport's chief executive officer, Mr Lee Seow Hiang.

Changi, which rolled out a $100 million assistance package last year to help carriers and other partners cope with tough times, will continue to work closely with all stakeholders.

Mr Lee said: "We are hopeful that 2015 will be a better year for aviation in the region. Travel demand is recovering steadily for markets such as Thailand and China. Lower fuel costs will also help to alleviate cost pressures for airlines."

The year has started well, he said, with Air New Zealand recommencing its services to Singapore - more than eight years after it pulled out.

Last year, Changi welcomed six new carriers, including MIAT Mongolian Airlines and Uzbekistan Airways.

"As we announce more new airlines and destinations in the coming months, we stand ready to work with our airline and industry partners to capture growth opportunities and strengthen Changi Airport's air hub position," Mr Lee said.

Industry analysts say Changi's focus will remain on regional markets, which account for the bulk of the airport's traffic.

Indonesia was Changi's top country market last year, accounting for more than 7.5 million passengers, followed by Malaysia, Australia, Thailand and China.

As for the busiest routes, the top 10 destinations remained unchanged, with Jakarta, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Manila taking the top five spots.

Looking ahead, the outlook for the region is positive, but airlines will need to closely monitor market movements and align future capacity increases with the actual increase in demand, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines director-general Andrew Herdman said on Wednesday.

This will ultimately impact airports like Changi, industry experts said.

This article was first published on Jan 30, 2015.
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