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Changi Airport sets new passenger milestones

A record 53.7m handled last year; monthly, daily records also broken

[SINGAPORE] Changi Airport broke its annual, monthly and daily passenger records in 2013. During the year, the airport handled 53.7 million passengers, a 5 per cent increase over 2012, which had been yet another record-breaking year.

About 31 per cent of Changi's total traffic came from low-cost carriers, up from less than 20 per cent just five years ago.

This year, Changi Airport is projecting a growth rate of 3-5 per cent in passenger throughput, given the large base from which it is starting and the outlook for macroeconomic conditions.

"We expect our passenger growth rates to moderate," said Jeffrey Ng, vice- president for air hub strategy at Changi Airport Group.

The airport also hit a new kind of milestone, busting the five million mark for passengers carried in a month with 5.12 million passengers in December - the first time it has done so in its 32-year history, Changi Airport Group said yesterday.

Its daily record was also broken on the Saturday just before Christmas, during which 191,800 passengers and 1,100 flights were registered over 24 hours.

During the year, Changi recorded a 5.9 per cent increase in the number of aircraft landings and take-offs, at 343,800.

On the cargo front, airfreight movements inched up less than one per cent to 1.85 million tonnes, reflecting the state of the cargo industry and the fact that "general macroeconomic conditions are quite fragile", said Mr Ng.

Changi's robust volume of passenger traffic bumped it up from seventh to fifth position where the world's busiest airports are concerned, according to data from Airports Council International, which used passenger figures for the 12 months ended October 2013.

Its biggest market remained Indonesia, with the South-east Asian region showing the biggest growth in traffic - an 8.2 per cent increase to 23.7 million passenger movements. Even so, passenger movement declines were seen in long- haul sectors, namely three regions: Europe, the Americas and Africas.

"Some of the long-haul airlines that have departed from Changi, we are now winning them back," said Lim Ching Kiat, senior vice- president, market development, at Changi Airport Group. He cited the return of Switzerland's national carrier Swiss last year as well as the impending return of Air New Zealand later this year.

At the same time, Ethiopian Airlines joined the fold last year, while Uzbekistan Airways will come onboard this year. "Both of these (airlines), they plug the gaps in our network. Ethiopian Airlines brings a new connection to eastern and central Africa, (and) Uzbekistan Airways brings a new link into central Asia," said Mr Lim.

On the capacity front, more is being done between now and 2020 when the three-runway system is slated to be up.

Citing a study done in 2012, which found that an additional 40 per cent in capacity could be found in the current two-runway system, Mr Lim said a work group had been formed to look at increasing efficiency to free up this capacity.

These measures will include better utilisation of runways and working with airlines to spread out flights more evenly, he added.