A traveller wearing a face mask walk towards the taxi stand at the arrival hall of Changi Airport on March 23, 2020 in Singapore
  • Singapore's Changi Airport, voted the best airport in the world, said the fight against Covid-19 has only just begun as the impact from the pandemic on the travel industry shows no signs of improvements.
  • As a result of the lowest passenger flights in Changi's history, the airport has suspended operations in two terminals, put the construction of a fifth terminal on hold and cut salaries of management and staff by 30%.
  • Even with the opening of "Jewel" in 2019, a massive shopping and entertainment complex, the Changi Airport Group has suffered a blow from low visitor numbers. 
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Singapore's Changi Airport has warned of a "daunting" future amid the coronavirus pandemic as officials of the world's best airport say passenger flights are now at the lowest level in Changi's history.

The Changi Airport Group suspended operations in two terminals to save on running costs and optimise resources to match the low flight demand and brace for a "prolonged crisis." It has put the construction of a fifth terminal at Changi East on hold for at least two years as passenger traffic declined for the first time in a decade.

The company has also cut management and staff salaries as much as 30%, and recommended no dividend payout for 2019/2020, the airport group said.

"The battle with Covid-19 has only just begun with travel recovery highly dependent on how countries around the world manage border controls, the relaxation of air travel requirements and the development of viable medical treatments for the virus," Changi Airport Group said in its annual report.

"The future does appear daunting with the situation showing no signs of abatement," the company said, adding that declining passenger traffic and airline cuts have impacted the airport's business prospects.

Changi airport was voted the world's best airport in 2020 by international travellers for the eighth consecutive year, according to rankings by analysts at Skytrax.

In April 2019, Changi Airport opened a 1.5 million square feet shopping and entertainment complex called "Jewel" which has a rainforest, hedge maze, and the highest indoor waterfall in the world. Although Jewel has boosted revenue 2.6% to S$3.1 billion in the period, the Changi Airport Group's report said that businesses within the complex suffered due to low visitor numbers.

From airports to airlines, the travel industry has been heavily impacted by the global pandemic due to low demand for flights and lengthy quarantine measures between countries.

On September 22, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for rapid and affordable Covid-19 testing for all travelers before boarding a plane as an alternative to quarantine measures to "re-establish global air connectivity." 

The IATA said testing passengers on arrival dents their confidence as there could be a chance they have to quarantine at the destination if their test result is positive.

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