Changi closes in on 2019 benchmark

SINGAPORE, 26 January 2024: Singapore Changi Airport handled 58.9 million passenger movements in 2023, representing 86% of the traffic recorded in 2019. 

Aircraft movements, including 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%.

Photo credit: Changi Airport.

For the fourth quarter from October to December 2023, passenger traffic at Changi crossed the 90% recovery line with 16.1 million passenger movements recorded. December 2023 was the busiest month for Changi, registering 5.8 million passenger movements, or 91% of traffic measured in December 2019. The busiest day of the year was 22 December 2023 – the Friday before Christmas – when 203,000 passengers passed through Changi’s 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 American region posted the strongest growth in 2023, exceeding 2019 by more than 25%. Europe, Southwest Pacific and South Asia are nearly recovering, registering over 90% of 2019 traffic.

Throughout the year, all regions continued to register strong recovery. Northeast Asia was the forerunner, with passenger traffic 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 a 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 in sixth place with almost 4 million passenger movements.

Passenger traffic between Japan and Singapore tripled compared to 2022, while South Korean traffic exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 36%, making it the market with the strongest rebound compared to 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.

Changi Airport Group’s Executive Vice President for Air Hub and Cargo Development Lim Ching Kiat 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 and 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, with Changi Airport now the fifth busiest airport in the world by seat capacity[1].

“We step into 2024 hopeful of recovering fully to Changi Airport’s pre-Covid connectivity and traffic levels. As more travellers worldwide 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, Changi Airport welcomed three new airlines — Air Macau, Firefly and TransNusa. It added two new city links to its network — Bhubaneswar (India) and Sanya (China). Changi Airport also established its first link to Beijing Daxing Airport via China Eastern Airlines. 

Through a three-year partnership between the Singapore Tourism Board, TUI Airways and Marella Cruises, Changi Airport will welcome fly-cruise passengers from the UK to Singapore during the December to April cruise season for three years until 2026. TUI Airways operates three 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 weekly nonstop Vancouver-Singapore service in April 2024. Singapore Airlines will also launch new passenger services to Brussels and London Gatwick in April and June 2024.

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