Monday, February 26, 2024
HomesingaporeAir travel between Singapore and China takes off again, but may need...

Air travel between Singapore and China takes off again, but may need time to reach pre-COVID heights

SINGAPORE: Air travel between Singapore and China is seeing a strong recovery since COVID-19 struck, but it may take time for passenger volumes to reach pre-pandemic heights. 

Some industry watchers believe this will likely depend on China’s economic recovery and how quickly air networks are re-established. 

“Since China reopened its borders in the early part of this year, the recovery between Singapore and China (has been) very strong,” said Mr Lim Ching Kiat, executive vice president of air hub and cargo development at Changi Airport Group (CAG). 

“Our traffic between Singapore and China is now at about 70 per cent of pre-COVID levels.”

RECOVERY OF PASSENGER TRAFFIC 

Last month, the monthly passenger movements between Singapore and China crossed the half million mark for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Changi Airport handled about 510,000 air passengers travelling between Singapore and China, more than seven times the passenger traffic in January. 

The growth can be attributed to the gradual easing of travel restrictions by China, said CAG. 

China is Changi Airport’s third largest market behind Indonesia and Malaysia. It accounts for about 10 per cent of the airport’s air traffic volume.

As of August, the airport was linked to 25 cities in China, including Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. 

There are still 12 Chinese city links that are yet to be re-established. These include Changchun, Dalian and Harbin.

A dozen airlines currently connect Changi Airport to Chinese cities, compared to 16 airlines before the pandemic.

CAG will continue engaging airlines and travel trade partners “on demand-generation initiatives”, he noted. 

“In the coming months, we plan to launch a marketing campaign to introduce unique attractions and experiences of selected Chinese cities to Singapore residents.”

TOUR AGENCIES SEEING BETTER BUSINESS

Local travel agencies told CNA that interest in visiting China has returned, spurred by pent-up demand and younger travellers.

Local tour operator ASA Holidays said bookings are up 70 per cent heading into the year-end peak season, compared to the same period before the pandemic.

Ms Chung Tak Ing, assistant general manager at ASA Holidays, said: “One of the main reasons for this is because we are seeing more people who have been wanting to travel to China for the last three years sign up quickly, plus a few new customers. 

“If it’s the school holidays, most of the travellers will be families of all sizes. We’ve seen more families booking holidays this year. It shows that young people are interested in what China has to offer.”

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