Singapore’s Changi Airport has warned of a “daunting period” ahead as the impact from the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating. The Asian transit hub is regularly voted world’s best airport for the 60m to 70m passenger range.
For 2020 Changi was voted the world’s best airport for an eighth consecutive year, according to rankings by UK-based analysts Skytrax.
Changi has suspended operations in two terminals as flights have dropped to the lowest levels in its history. It has also suspended the construction of a fifth terminal for at least two years.
“The battle with Covid-19 has only just begun,” Changi Airport Group said in its annual report. “The future does appear daunting with the situation showing no signs of abatement.”
The company’s yearly results cover the period up until the end of March 2020. This misses out on much of the severe downturn in passengers since the pandemic took hold in January. Singapore barred the entry and transit of short-term visitors on 23 March.
But the impact from those months still had a big impact, wiping out earlier gains built up over much of 2019. Profits plunged 36% to S$435m ($319m, £246m).
Last year, Changi Airport opened Jewel, a shopping and entertainment complex covering 1.5m square feet (14ha). It includes stores and attractions including a rainforest, hedge maze and the world’s highest indoor waterfall.
This new complex has helped cushion the blow from the downturn in visitors, boosting revenue 2.6% to S$3.1bn.
“Jewel is a new icon for Singapore and has redefined what it means to be an airport,” Changi Airport Group added.
But the group still paints a grim picture of the international travel hub and says the recovery is “highly dependent on how countries around the world manage border controls, the relaxation of air travel requirements and the development of viable medical treatments for the virus.”
Last week, US airlines began laying off thousands of workers after efforts to negotiate a new economic relief plan in Congress stalled.
And this month the aviation trade body, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), downgraded its 2020 traffic forecasts, after “a dismal end to the summer travel season”.
The IATA estimates that it will be at least 2024 before air traffic reaches pre-pandemic levels.