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Changi is again Asia's most connected international airport; slips to 8th globally

FOR the second year running, Changi Airport has been named Asia's most connected international airport.

However, Changi dropped from sixth to eighth spot in the global rankings, with London's Heathrow Airport topping the charts by industry consultancy OAG which collates and analyses flight schedules, among other industry indicators.

In ranking the airports, OAG calculated the total number of all possible connections between inbound and outbound flights within a six-hour window, on the busiest day for global aviation over the 12 months to July 2018.

The ranking looked at all international flights to and from the airports.

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OAG noted that some of Asia Pacific's largest airports are among the world's top 20 most connected.

Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is in 10th place, Kuala Lumpur International Airport is 12th, Hong Kong airport took the 13th spot while Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport is number 14 on the list.

Mr Mayur Patel, OAG's regional sales director for Japan and the Asia-Pacific, said: "Robust demand for international air travel is making Asia-Pacific a pivotal region for connecting flights."

He said Asia's dominance is clear to see and there are likely to be some interesting movements when the new Beijing airport opens.

"With China driving air travel growth, we expect hub connectivity to Hong Kong - currently undergoing unprecedented growth driven by mainline operators (Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon) - will undoubtedly see further evolution," Mr Patel said.

Experts say that for Changi Airport, it will mean keener competition to retain its title.

Even as the Singapore airport has aggressive plans to expand its current capacity with the construction of a mega passenger terminal - Terminal 5 - which will be ready around 2030, rivals are not standing still.

On Sunday, the Nikkei Asian Review reported that Thailand is embarking on a mega expansion which aims to more than double the passenger capacity of airports in and around Bangkok.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith was quoted as saying that the new U-Tapao airport, a former military air base south-east of Bangkok, will handle up to 60 million passengers a year once it is fully renovated into a civil airport.

The entire transformation is expected to take 20 years.

Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in Bangkok will also be expanded to reach annual capacities of 90 million and 40 million, respectively, he said.

The two airports are currently able to handle up to 45 million and 30 million passengers a year, respectively.

Changi Airport, which is now able to handle up to 82 million passengers a year, could see its capacity increase to as high as about 150 million with T5.

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