Singapore’s award-winning Changi Airport suffered an 82.8 percent drop in passenger traffic for 2020 as a result of the shutdown in international aviation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Passenger traffic dropped from 68.3 million passenger movements through the airport in 2019 to 11.8 million in 2020. The airport was hit hardest in April and May when the city-state was in its so-called “circuit breaker” period imposed as a way to stem the spread of the virus. Changi Airport Group said in its announcement that the airport posted a 23.3 percent drop in freight movements from around 20 million tons in 2019 to 15.4 million tons in 2020.
The airport released its statistics just as Singapore announced that it was setting up mass vaccination centres to ensure at least 37,000 front-line workers in the aviation and maritime sectors can get COVID-19 vaccine shots. About 13,000 workers have registered to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this week and the exercise is set to be completed within two months, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said during a visit to the vaccination centre at Changi Airport Terminal 4. The vaccinations are an important step to revive Singapore’s air hub, which has been decimated by the pandemic, he told reporters.
If a substantial number of aviation and maritime workers are vaccinated, “whoever comes through will know that it is safe, (that) our people are cohesive and we work as a team,” Ong said. “This is a huge advantage in terms of our brand name,” he stressed in a Straits Times report. “Singapore Airlines (SIA) can be the first vaccinated international airline of the world.”
Inoculating front-line workers will also protect Singapore, he added. “All our 37,000 front-liners, they’re defenders of our borders because the borders are a key vulnerability,” he said, as he urged these front-liners to step forward. The T4 centre will vaccinate up to 2,000 people a day and capacity can be further expanded, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) in a statement. Priority will be given to 20,000 front-line workers, including cabin crew, cleaners, security screeners and baggage handlers, who may come into contact with travellers from high-risk countries, as well as their belongings, according to media reports.