Mr Ang Wei Neng asked the Minister for Transport
a. how much has the passenger traffic at Changi Airport recovered in the first half of the year, particularly during the June school holidays, as compared to the pre-COVID-19 period;
b. what is the progress on beefing up manpower requirements in the aviation sector in response to the higher air traffic volume; and
c. whether the Ministry has plans to deal with potential major flight delays and cancellations.
Reply by Minister for Transport S Iswaran:
1. In the first six months of 2022, Changi handled about 8.9 million passengers. This is about 28% of pre-pandemic passenger traffic over the same period in 2019, but almost 10 times Changi’s passenger traffic over the same period in 2021. In particular, we have seen strong traffic over the June school holidays, which averaged around 50% of pre-pandemic weekly passenger traffic.
2. Changi’s strong passenger traffic recovery is due to the re-opening of Singapore’s borders to all fully-vaccinated travellers and removal of testing requirements in April, as well as many Asia-Pacific countries also re-opening their borders around that time.
3. In anticipation of further recovery, Changi Airport is increasing capacity by reopening Terminal 4 from September and the South Departure Hall in Terminal 2 from October. This will enable the airport to handle up to pre-COVID passenger traffic levels, or about 70 million passengers per annum.
4. To support this, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) are working closely with the Changi Airport Group (CAG) and the aviation ecosystem to ramp up the aviation workforce. Aviation companies have stepped up recruitment efforts, recalling experienced workers and hiring new workers.
5. The sector is also working together on initiatives to profile the wide range of job opportunities. These include the sector-wide OneAviation Careers event held in May and the OneAviation Careers Hub web portal that will be launched later this year.
6. As we have seen in other airports around the world, it is not easy to ramp up manpower and passenger handling capacity at short notice. Successful applicants need to be trained to meet the safety and work requirements of their roles, before they can be deployed. Since the start of 2022, aviation companies have hired about 3,000 workers, which brings the sector's workforce to about 80% of pre-COVID levels. The tripartite partners are continuing with the recruitment efforts to rebuild our aviation workforce.
7. The aviation stakeholders have prepared contingency plans to mitigate disruptions to passengers caused by flight delays or flight cancellations overseas. Airlines also have Standard Operating Procedures to re-book or find accommodation for affected passengers.
8. Thanks to the efforts of the whole aviation community, including our companies and unions, we have not experienced the severe congestions and disruptions faced by some other airports. Let us keep up the good work and continue to work together to uphold Changi’s status as a world-class aviation hub.