Singapore's Changi Airport passenger numbers surpass pre-COVID levels for the first time in February 2024

Changi Airport Group reports 5.35 million passenger movements last month, hitting 104.3 per cent of traffic recorded in February 2019

Changi Airport surpasses pre-pandemic passenger levels in February 2024
Changi Airport surpasses pre-pandemic passenger levels in February 2024. (PHOTO: Facebook/ChangiAirport)

SINGAPORE — Changi Airport saw passenger traffic surpass the pre-pandemic levels for the first time in February, hitting 104.3 per cent of the traffic recorded in February 2019.

Changi Airport Group (CAG) said on Wednesday (13 March) that in February 2024, there were 5.35 million passenger movements at Singapore's aviation hub. The airport also said in a post on its Facebook page that it recorded its busiest day on 18 February, with 203,000 passengers passing through its terminals.

This achievement follows a year of gradual recovery in 2023, during which the airport reached 86 per cent of its pre-pandemic annual traffic levels, serving 58.9 million passengers. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the airport registered 68.3 million passenger movements in 2019.

Lim Ching Kiat, CAG's executive vice-president for air hub and cargo development, had expressed optimism in January of making a full recovery to pre-pandemic connectivity and traffic levels for the year ahead.

As of February, Changi Airport is hosting 93 airlines operating over 6,900 weekly scheduled flights, connecting Singapore to more than 150 cities.

Changi Airport records 5.35 million passenger movements in February 2024
Changi Airport records 5.35 million passenger movements in February 2024. (PHOTO: Changi Airport Website/Screengrab)

What factors drove the growth and what lies ahead?

The Straits Times reported that Mayur Patel, head of Asia at global travel data provider OAG Aviation, credited Changi Airport's February growth to several factors.

These included heightened regional activity due to the leap year, the Chinese New Year holidays, and the recent implementation of a visa waiver for mainland Chinese visitors. Since 9 February, citizens of Singapore and China can enter each other's countries visa-free for a stay of up to 30 days.

Patel noted that passenger traffic rose by 4.3 per cent in February 2024 compared to February 2019, even though aircraft movements remained 3.6 per cent below 2019 levels.

Looking ahead, he anticipates that available seat capacity to and from Changi Airport will average 95 per cent of 2019 levels, based on OAG data. However, actual passenger traffic levels will be subject to macro-economic environment and passenger demand.

Patel also pointed out that Thailand and Malaysia will compete with Changi Airport for outbound Chinese traffic due to their own visa waiver programmes.

However, he added that Changi Airport stands to benefit from increased capacity in the coming months as higher flight frequencies and new city pairs are added to its network.

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