December 16 2022  |  Airlines & Airports

Changi Airport: year-in-review

By Laura Shirk

The surge in travel demand at Changi is leading to a revival in travel retail sales at the airport; the most popular product categories are liquor, perfumes & cosmetics and luxury products

The year 2022 has been one of strong recovery for Changi Airport. With the relaxation of travel restrictions in April, the airport has seen passenger and flight movements rise steadily throughout the months since.

While only Terminals 1 (T1) and 3 (T3) were serving passengers at the start of the year, Changi reopened Terminal 4 (T4) in September and the southern wing of Terminal 2 (T2) in October to cater to the surge in both outbound and inbound travel demand.

In tandem, travel retail sales have also seen a revival, with liquor, perfumes & cosmetics, and luxury products once again emerging as the top categories in Changi’s stores to date. At the landside, all of the shops in T1 and T3 are open to visitors. At the same time, Jewel Changi Airport has continuously refreshed its offerings, with both homegrown and international brands setting up shop at the nature-infused attraction.

To handle the strong uptick in passengers and flights, organizations within the airport community have actively ramped up their manpower and staff training. Throughout the pandemic, they have worked closely with and supported one another to persevere during this challenging time, while continuing to uphold the high service levels that Changi has worked hard to build.

Changi Airport was presented the "Best Airport Staff" award by Skytrax for the second year running and is the most awarded airport in the world.

As published by Changi Airport, below is its year-in-review.

Recovery of the Changi Air Hub

In the first 10 months of 2022, Changi Airport saw 23.6 million passenger movements, representing 42% of pre-Covid-19 levels. Aircraft movements, which include landings and takeoffs, totalled approximately 170,000, 53% of pre-COVID-19 levels.

During the month of October 2022, Changi Airport handled 3.69 million passenger movements, representing about 65% of that handled in October 2019. Some 21,800 aircraft movements were registered in the same month, about 68% of that registered in October 2019.

As at the first week of December 2022, 95 airlines operate over 5,500 weekly scheduled flights at Changi Airport, connecting Singapore to some 140 cities in 48 countries and territories worldwide. This is 82% of Changi’s pre-COVID-19 connectivity.

In 2022, Changi Airport welcomed eight new airlines. There is a mix of full-service and low-cost carriers, as well as freighter operators – Aircalin, Atlas Air, Bamboo Airways, Cambodia Airways, Citilink, HK Express, Thai Vietjet and T’way Air. It also added four new destinations to our network – Noumea (New Caledonia), Jeju (South Korea), Pune (India) and Sibu (Malaysia).

For the first 10 months of the year, Changi’s top five country markets were Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. However, the strongest passenger traffic recovery has come from the regions of North America, South Asia and Europe.

Passenger traffic to and from North America has rebounded strongly to exceed pre- pandemic levels. For the South Asia market, apart from re-establishing all pre-COVID city links, Changi also added a new city link to Pune on December 2, 2022. For Europe, Changi has almost returned to pre-COVID level of flight frequencies.

Resumption of scheduled flight operations at Seletar Airport

In June 2022, Firefly reinstated its services to Seletar Airport from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, Subang and Malaysia, a significant milestone for the recovery of air services from the pandemic. With the resumption of scheduled flights, the airline now operates six daily Kuala Lumpur – Singapore services between Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport and Seletar Airport.

Airport organizations have been actively recruiting more staff to ramp up their operational capacity to handle more flights and more passengers

Increasing capacity to handle higher passenger volume

To facilitate the strong pickup in travel demand, Changi Airport progressively reopened T2’s Arrival Hall in late May, followed by T4 in September and the southern wing of T2’s Departure Hall in October.

Today, the airport has capacity to handle more than 70 million passenger movements per year. This exceeds the 68.3 million passenger movements of 2019.

In tandem, airport organizations have been actively recruiting more staff to ramp up their operational capacity to handle more flights and more passengers. The aviation sector in Singapore has been organizing job fairs and other activities to bring in more workers to meet the demands generated by the air travel recovery. Since the start of the year, over 6,000 new workers have joined the aviation industry.

Upgrading the Changi Experience

In February, Changi Airport launched new initiatives to better support passengers with invisible disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, and dementia. Aimed at creating a more stress-free and inclusive travel experience for these passengers, the initiatives include a customisable step-by-step airport guide (Changi Airport Social Story), having a pool of staff trained in identifying passengers with invisible disabilities and being alert to special identifying lanyards, so these passengers can get help more easily and discreetly. The initiatives were developed by CAG in consultation with special needs schools and organizations.

With the increase in passenger traffic, Changi Airport’s well-loved facilities such as the Butterfly Garden in T3 and Sunflower Garden in T2 also reopened to passengers. With the reopening of T2, all the Skytrain services in public areas also resumed service, bringing convenience to travelers and joy to visitors who frequent the airport as their weekend "family haunt."

The revival of travel retail

With the recent resumption of operations in T2 and T4, shops will reopen progressively in the upcoming months in tandem with passenger traffic recovery.

The surge in travel demand at Changi is leading to a revival in travel retail sales at the airport. The most popular product categories are liquor, perfumes & cosmetics and luxury products. This is even the case with Chinese tourists still absent from the travel retail scene in Changi; some brands are seeing sales surging past pre-pandemic levels.

From end-September to the year’s end, CAG is running its inaugural World of Wines and Spirits (WOWS) in partnership with Lotte Duty Free, bringing Changi’s duty free offerings to another level. WOWS showcases the world’s most internationally acclaimed, exclusive and premium wines and spirits, featuring over 200 of the finest products from more than 75 brands including first-in-the-region rarities from renowned labels like Bowmore, The Macallan, Midleton, The Singleton and Penfolds.

Besides themed holiday activations such as Chupa Chups and Peanuts in March and May respectively, the airport also rolled out various dining promotions and shopping campaigns during festive periods to drive sales to support tenants operating in the airport’s public areas.

Forging a sustainable Changi

Changi Airport Group (CAG) is committed to advancing Changi Airport as a sustainable air hub. Besides committing to zero carbon growth until 2030 and capping absolute carbon emissions at 2018 levels, CAG strives toward a Net Zero aspiration by 2050 via the use of new technologies and the increased adoption of renewable energy. To power more sustainable air travel, CAG also supports green initiatives by airport partners including the adoption of Sustainable Aviation Fuel by airlines operating at Changi.

In addition to reducing carbon emissions, CAG continues to reduce overall water consumption, as well as optimizes waste management by encouraging good recycling practices and implementing effective waste collection systems.

Launch of Changi Airport’s TikTok account

To expand Changi Airport’s social media presence, Changi Airport launched its official TikTok account (tiktok.com/@changiairport) in April. Since its launch, the channel has attracted over 56,000 followers (as of December 1), with over 100 short video content posted. The most popular TikTok video garnered over eight million organic views and more than 1.3 million engagements. Topics are wide-ranging including behind-the-scenes airport stories, new developments in the airport and tips and hacks for travelers.

With the launch of Changi’s TikTok account, the airport now connects with fans across various social media platforms, sharing breaking news via platforms like Facebook and Twitter and inspiring travel with visually captivating content via its Instagram and YouTube accounts.

REGION Asia

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