SINGAPORE AIR TRAFFIC HITS RECORD ON ECONOMIC, CASINO STRENGTH
Passenger traffic at Singapore’s Changi Airport rose 11.4 percent in December, capping a record-setting year for the facility, which has seen volumes rise on the strength of the Southeast Asian region and the addition of two casinos representing a total investment of $10 billion to the local economy. Growth has been strong at both facilities, with visitor volume at Resorts World Sentosa, the city-state’s largest integrated gambling resort, alone doubling in 2011 to between 18,000 and 20,000 people per day, according to published reports.
“December 2011 was Changi Airport’s busiest month ever with 4.53 million passenger movements,” Changi Airport Group said, in a statement. For the whole of 2011, the airport handled 46.5 million passengers, up 10.7 percent from a year ago. Low-cost carriers accounted for one in four passengers last year, up from one in five in 2010. Over half (53 percent) of visitors came from the five biggest markets; Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Australia and India.
Changi Airport connects Singapore to 210 cities in 60 countries, serving more than 100 airlines. The airport handled 167,000 tons of cargo in December, an increase of 6.9 percent from 2010, and the highest figure in three years, and yet another indicator of regional strength.
Meantime, transportation within the city-state was strengthened last month with the opening of a 2.4-kilometer extension of the Circle Line, the islands fourth largest subway line, linking the Marina Bay Sands with its new Bayfront Station to the public transport network for the first time.
John Postle, executive director of The Shoppes, the resort’s shopping mall, told the Wall Street Journal Southeast Asia that the new station “allows our visitors to access Marina Bay Sands with ease from all parts of the island.” Aaron Fischer, a gaming analyst at Hong Kong-based brokerage house CLSA, said the Bayfront station will help increase MBS’s slice of Singapore’s gaming pie by making it easier for people to travel there, according to the Journal. “We understand the connectivity between the station and the (integrated resort) is quite impressive,” he said in emailed comments. He added, MBS “will have to manage the perception that too many locals are gambling at the casino.”
In a move that was designed to discourage excessive gambling by the local population, Singaporeans are obliged to pay a S$100 entry fee or an annual subscription of S$2,000 to enter Marina Bay Sands or Resorts World (S$1 = US$0.79). Local visitor volume has nonetheless exceeded expectations. Las Vegas Sands last year was reportedly told by local authorities to cap it at no more than 30 percent of total volume.