KEY POINTS

  • Changi Airport Group's passenger traffic dropped 71% in March
  • Two of the four terminals of Changi have been shut down
  • Global air traffic won't return to normal before 2024: IATA

Singapore’s Changi Airport, voted the world’s best for the eighth consecutive time in 2020, has warned of a “daunting period” ahead as the COVID-19 pandemic refuses to abate.

Two of the four terminals of Changi have been shut down as the number of flights to the airport dropped to the lowest in the airport’s history. The construction of a fifth terminal has been put on hold for at least two years.

The Changi Airport Group, the company responsible for the development of the airport, cautioned in its annual report that “the future appears daunting with the situation showing no signs of abatement”. The battle has only just begun, the company cautioned.

Releasing results for the year ended March 31, 2020, Friday, the company said business deteriorated in February and March as travel restrictions prompted by COVID-19 came into effect. The company gained from strong travel demand in the first 10 months of FY20.

Passenger traffic in February and March plunged 33% and 71%, respectively, compared with a year earlier, with concession revenue declining 58% for the two months. The company’s full-year profit dropped 36% to $435 million and its investment overseas was adversely affected.

Changi’s falling revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic was rescued in part by Jewel, its new shopping and entertainment complex, covering 14 hectares. This new complex in Terminal 1 of the airport, helped in boosting revenue by 2.6%, according to a statement by the company. It has stores, tourist attractions like a rainforest, a hedge maze, and the world’s highest indoor waterfall.

But Changi Airport Group’s outlook for international travel and its impact on Changi is still grim, as it believes the recovery is dependent on how countries across the world manage border controls, ease travel restrictions, and develop medical treatments for the virus.

The aviation industry is navigating through turbulent waters amid the coronavirus pandemic. American and United Airlines of the U.S. began furloughing thousands of employees last week as the government’s payroll protection program ended. Aviation trade body International Air Transport Association downgraded its 2020 traffic forecasts this month, saying it will be at least 2024 before air travel comes back to pre-coronavirus times.

No. 1	Singapore Changi Airport No. 1 Singapore Changi Airport Photo: Reuters