January 24 2024  |  Airlines & Airports

Changi Airport 2023 in review: passenger traffic recovered to 86% of pre-COVID level

By Laura Shirk

Aircraft movements, which include landings and take-offs, totalled 328,000, compared to 382,000 in 2019

Singapore Changi Airport handled 58.9 million passenger movements in 2023, representing 86% of the traffic recorded in 2019. Aircraft movements, which include landings and take-offs, totalled 328,000, compared to 382,000 in 2019. Against a volatile global economic environment, airfreight throughput stood at 1.74 million tonnes for 2023, a year-on-year decline of 6%.

In the fourth quarter from October to December, passenger traffic at the airport crossed 90% recovery with 16.1 million passenger movements recorded. December 2023 was the busiest month of the year, registering 5.8 million passenger movements, or 91% of traffic in December 2019. The busiest day of the year was December 22, 2023 – the Friday before Christmas – when 203,000 travelers passed through its terminals.

Aircraft movements for the month totalled 30,400, reaching 91% of 2019 levels. Airfreight throughput stood at 150,000 tonnes, a 1.5% decline compared to December 2022.

Traffic recovery

Compared to pre-COVID passenger traffic, the North America region posted the strongest growth in 2023, exceeding 2019 levels by more than 25%, while Europe, Southwest Pacific and South Asia are close to full recovery, registering over 90% of 2019 traffic.

Throughout the year, all regions continued to register strong recovery. Northeast Asia was the front runner, with increasing more than four times that of 2022, largely due to a significant increase in travel between China and Singapore. Southeast Asia posted the second strongest growth during the year, registering 72% year-on-year growth.

Changi Airport’s top five passenger markets for the year were Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand and India. Among Changi’s top 10 markets, China, Japan and South Korea were the fastest growing compared to 2022. With the easing of travel restrictions, China regained its spot in Changi’s top 10 markets, closing the year at number six with almost four million passenger movements. Passenger traffic between Japan and Singapore tripled compared to 2022, while South Korea traffic exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 36%, making it the market with the strongest rebound vs. pre-COVID traffic.

Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta, Denpasar (Bali) and Manila were Changi Airport’s busiest routes during the year with the Kuala Lumpur route being the world’s busiest international route based on seat capacity.

On the cargo front, cargo flows dipped slightly compared to 2022 against the backdrop of global economic uncertainty and inflationary pressures. Changi's top five air cargo markets for the year were China, Australia, Hong Kong, the United States of America and India.

Lim Ching Kiat, Changi Airport Group’s Executive Vice President for Air Hub and Cargo Development said, “2023 was an invigorating year, as we witnessed the resounding resumption of travel across the world, as well as the full reopening of Changi Airport’s Terminal 2. The upswing in travel was fuelled by strong outbound travel demand, as well as growing inbound travel. The growth in passenger traffic was especially strong in Asia, with an acceleration seen in the last quarter. Changi Airport also resumed connections to more than 10 cities this year, including Addis Ababa, Changsha, Ningbo, Kaohsiung, and Okinawa. We have restored almost 90% of our pre-COVID city links to date, with Changi Airport now the fifth busiest airport in the world by seat capacity.

“We step into 2024 hopeful of making a full recovery back to Changi Airport's pre-COVID connectivity and traffic levels. As more travellers around the world rekindle their wanderlust, we will continue to work with our airline partners to bring exciting destinations and new travel experiences to travellers.”

Enhancing connectivity

In 2023, the airport welcomed three new passenger airlines into the Changi family – Air Macau, Firefly and TransNusa – and added two new passenger city links to its network – Bhubaneswar (India) and Sanya (China). The airport also established its first link to Beijing Daxing Airport via China Eastern Airlines. Through a three-year partnership between Singapore Tourism Board, TUI Airways and Marella Cruises, Changi Airport will welcome fly-cruise passengers from the United Kingdom to Singapore between December to April each season, for three years until 2026. TUI Airways operates three times weekly services from London-Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham.

During the year, Air Canada announced its return to Changi Airport after more than 30 years, and will commence its four times weekly non-stop Vancouver-Singapore service in April 2024. Singapore Airlines will also launch new passenger services to Brussels and London Gatwick, commencing in April and June 2024, respectively.

On the cargo front, Changi Airport welcomed three new freighter services in December 2023 from MSC Air Cargo (Operated by Atlas Air), Sichuan Airlines and Myanmar National Airlines.

As at January 2024, 93 airlines operate over 6,700 weekly scheduled flights at Changi Airport, connecting Singapore to 154 cities in 49 countries and territories worldwide.

Changi Airport's traffic statistics are available here.

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