Singapore

Changi ready for new high in daily traffic

Holiday season boosts passenger traffic at airport

Changi Airport is buzzing with holidaymakers, who boosted passenger traffic last Saturday to an all-time high of 195,000.

The daily record - after 35 years of operations - may well be broken this Christmas weekend, The Straits Times has learnt. The following weekend is expected to be busy, too.

With so much traffic to handle, Changi Airport Group is trying to ensure that travellers do not face any hiccups. It worked with ground handlers last weekend to deploy up to 30 per cent more staff at check-in counters and other touchpoints.

This will continue over the next two weekends.

It means calling on staff to put in extra hours or for them to take on duties outside of their usual tasks, Changi Airport spokesman Ivan Tan said.

Where necessary, part-timers are brought in. Customer service agent supervisor Chloe Lee Yin Lue, 23, said staff are briefed early on what to expect during the peak travel season.

"Supervisors also chip in to support our frontline staff on the ground," she said.

To prepare for the traffic surge, extra checks are done on self-service kiosks for check-in and luggage tagging to make sure that all are working well.

Changi Airport Group is also working closely with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority so counters are adequately manned.

Food and beverage outlets have increased their supplies to avoid any shortages.

To ensure there are enough taxis, incentives are in place to encourage cabbies to go to the airport to pick up passengers.

Apart from the usual airport surcharge, taxi drivers who make trips to the airport during this busy time also stand to win $5,000 in a year-end lucky draw.

To speed up taxi boarding and cut the time spent in the taxi queue, the airport is stationing two employees at each taxi bay to help passengers load their luggage into the taxi. This increases taxi throughput by an estimated 20 per cent during the peak arrival period.

Changi Airport Group senior vice-president (passenger experience) Albert Lim said: "The busy year-end period is a special time for many travellers as they journey home or head off for a holiday with their loved ones."

PREPARATIONS

The preparations aim to give everyone a good experience at the airport, he said.

Still, things can go wrong. For example, baggage could take longer than usual to reach the claim belts due to heavy rain and lightning.

To prepare for such a situation, made more likely with high passenger numbers and the year-end monsoon season, airport staff have increased the stock of refreshments such as biscuits and packet drinks for distribution to affected passengers by about 30 per cent.

On the security front, checks are being stepped up, not just because of the higher passenger traffic, but also amid a heightened level of alert with the threat of terror attacks hanging over the festive period in the region.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic student S. Deleep, 18, who flew to London last week, said: "It was crowded but everything went smoothly at check-in and immigration, and during boarding. It was a nice start to a much-awaited vacation."

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