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Travel & Holiday

Changi Airport to co-fund charter flights

Changi Airport’s plan is to launch new routes by organising six to 12 charters a year per destination, to places such as Sapporo and Okinawa. The move comes amid growing competition from regional rivals like Hong Kong.
The Straits Times - February 25, 2013
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Changi Airport to co-fund charter flights

 

CHANGI Airport is making a push for charter flights, with plans to team up with travel agents and co-fund the chartering costs, which can be as much as $200,000 for a round trip.

Details are being worked out, but the goal is to launch new routes by organising six to 12 charters a year per destination, said Changi Airport Group.

It cited places such as Sapporo and Okinawa in Japan as possibilities. This latest move to grow Singapore as an air hub was disclosed yesterday by the company’s chief executive Lee Seow Hiang, at the Natas Travel Fair.

Mr Lee told The Straits Times the company has had a freer hand to boost demand since its establishment in July 2009, when the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore separated the regulatory and airport operations functions.

Key to increasing the airport’s traffic is to have “all the players in the value chain working together, pooling resources and ideas to make things happen”, he said.

Industry watchers said that in the past three years, Changi Airport has been actively promoting itself to airlines and travellers amid growing competition from rivals in the region, such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Seoul.

It has participated in over 30 overseas trade shows since 2010.

Last year, it partnered merchants to recommend and sell tickets and vouchers to places of interest, restaurants and shops, to arriving passengers.

In redeveloping Terminal 1, it will introduce a multi-storey complex for new services that include easy transfers for travellers who fly in to catch a cruise.

Another effort is a new mobile app with maps, flight information and other details for 30 regional destinations. This is to encourage more people to go on weekend getaways. Such initiatives have helped Changi Airport boost business in an increasingly taxing environment, aviation analysts noted.

Last year, despite a slowdown in the global travel industry, Changi Airport handled a record 51.2 million passengers, which was 10 per cent more than in 2011.

In comparison, traffic at Hong Kong’s airport grew 4.7 per cent to 56.5 million passengers but the rise at Bangkok’s airport was 10.6 per cent.

Travel agents welcomed the latest move by Changi Airport.

Said executive director Cheong Peng San of Apple Vacations, the Singapore arm of a Malaysian company: “Last year, we did one charter to Hokkaido. If we can grow this segment by working with Changi, we are keen.”

Miss Alicia Seah, CTC Travel spokesman, noting the risk that travel agents take in operating charter flights as there may be difficulty in filling up seats, said: “Changi Airport coming in and taking on some of the risk will help grow this sector.”

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