Singapore: World’s no. 1 airport in deep crisis

Profits plummeted by 36% for the pandemic. Passenger volume at an all-time low. Two out of four terminals closed and construction of a fifth postponed. Reduced losses thanks to “Jewel”, a futuristic shopping centre. Without the relaxation of flight restrictions, the sector will not recover.

Singapore (AsiaNews / Agencies) The city airport is facing a prolonged period of crisis on the back of the pandemic according to forecast by the Changi Airport Group. The local airport operator published the data in its annual report published over the weekend.

In 2020, for the eighth consecutive year, the city-state airport was voted the best in the world among those hosting 60-70 million passengers. With the limitations imposed by the Covid-19 crisis, and the consequent collapse in the volume of arrivals to the lowest level in history, Changi has closed two of its four terminals and postponed the construction of a fifth for two years.

In the first quarter of this year alone, the airport lost the earnings produced in 2019, with profits plunging 36% to 435 million Singapore dollars (euros). It has managed to stay afloat thanks to the proceeds obtained from “Jewel”, a large shopping centre that houses attractions such as a rainforest, a garden-labyrinth and the highest man-made waterfall in the world.

The airport operator maintains that financial recovery will only be possible with a strong relaxation of flight restrictions. In the early stages of the health crisis, most countries closed their skies and cut off links with foreign countries; air traffic has resumed since May, but at a slower pace.

Globally, several airlines have filed for bankruptcy or suspended their operations. Last week, US carriers began firing thousands of employees: Congress has not yet found an agreement to extend economic aid to the sector.

In Asia, Thai Airways will face piloted bankruptcy proceedings for the next five years. Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines are also facing serious problems: both companies are overly dependent on international flights.