May 2020 certainly went down in history as Changi Airport’s worst ever month, with only 24,500 passengers – equivalent to less than 800 each day. The airport will no doubt be pleased to see the first uptick since COVID-19 took hold, with June 2020 data released today showing a 97% monthly increase to 48,200 passengers.
That’s still a very low 1,600 per day through the airport’s remaining two operating terminals, however, a fraction of the usual 190,000 passengers per day based on June 2019 data and equivalent to a 99.2% drop.
Air freight was down 31% on normal levels in June 2020, its best performance in three months, with a 9% increase compared to May 2020.
Total aircraft takeoffs and landings, including both passenger and freight flights, also increased by 7% since May, but remained 85% lower than usual.
Here’s how the number of passengers passing through Changi Airport looked so far in 2020 compared to the same months in 2019.
|Year to date||33,230||11,150||66.4%|
The year got off to a good start with the airport seeing a 5% passenger increase in January 2020 compared to the same month the previous year. That was commensurate with a 4% increase in passenger traffic seen at the airport during 2019.
Flight cancellations as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak then resulted in a one-third drop in passengers for February 2020, falling further in March 2020 and finally bottoming out at the record lows seen for April and May 2020.
With a slight uptick in June 2020, overall there was a 99.2% drop in passengers using Changi compared with 2019.
The news comes after Singapore Airlines reported last week that it carried 62% more passengers in June 2020 compared to the previous month.
In total the first six months of 2020 have seen a 66.4% drop in passenger numbers at Changi Airport compared to the same period in 2019.
Here’s how the air freight tonnage at Changi Airport looked so far in 2020 compared to the same months in 2019.
|Year to date||983||652||33.7%|
The falloff in cargo volumes at the airport came through a little later than for passenger traffic, as dedicated freighter services remained and airlines began operating cargo-only services with their passenger aircraft.
Indeed Singapore Airlines was flying three passenger aircraft with only cargo on board for every passenger flight it operated in June 2020.
This helps the airline to earn some revenue and helps to address the significant shortage in cargo capacity that has been brought about by the almost complete lack of passenger flights, which typically carry 75% of SIA’s annual cargo in the underfloor holds.
June 2020 saw an increase in cargo at Changi for the second month, up 9% compared to May with 112,000 tonnes passing through, however this was still a 31% fall compared to June 2019.
Nonetheless this is the best cargo performance recorded since April 2020’s low point.
Takeoffs and landings
Here’s how the number of aircraft takeoff and landings Changi Airport had so far in 2020 compared to the same months in 2019.
Takeoffs and landings
|Year to date||189.6||88.9||53.1%|
In June 2019 there were an average of 1,047 takeoffs and landings on Changi’s two runways each day, or 44 per hour.
That has fallen significantly with only 159 aircraft movements on average per day in June 2020, just around 7 per hour.
On the positive side it is a 7% increase compared to May 2020 and a 24% increase compared to April 2020, the latter holding the record for the lowest ever monthly aircraft movements total in the airport’s history.
More improvements for July and August?
With more flights added during June, especially from Singapore Airlines, this increase in passenger numbers was not unexpected.
July 2020 should see another increase, with SIA adding around 20% more passenger flights as the airline continues to tap into the transit traffic market, with extra flights to Europe and New Zealand for example.
The airline will also add flight frequencies in August 2020, so we expect both months to register additional passenger numbers at the airport.
The approval for SIA Group airlines to carry transit passengers through Changi since mid-June 2020 has been continually expanded to cater for more valid origin points globally.
In the most recent enhancement, all seven cities on Singapore Airlines’ current Europe network were given the green light to accept passengers on connecting itineraries.
At the last monthly update the approval was only for those transiting from Australia and New Zealand on Singapore Airlines and Scoot flights, so the expanded selection should further improve passenger numbers in July and August.
The transit process itself is rather convoluted, with segregated holding areas ensuring transit passengers do not mix with regular departing and arriving ones.
May 2020 saw a record low for passenger numbers through Changi Airport, so this improvement to 48,200 in June 2020 is certainly welcome.
Unfortunately with a long COVID-19 recovery now on the cards and strict global travel restrictions in force, including a ban on visitors in Singapore itself, the numbers remain a fraction of the usual levels.
There is some positive news though, cargo volumes have only dropped by 31% from their 2019 levels, the best result in three months, and the total number of takeoffs and landings continues to increase from a low point in April 2020.
With more flights and extra transit traffic, there should hopefully be further increases in July and August 2020, though it will clearly take some time for a return to more meaningful levels.