How airports around the world navigate the Covid-19 landscape

Aug 2021

By Ng Hui Hui

Despite the uncertainties inflicted on the aviation industry by Covid-19, Changi Airports International (CAI) continues to keep in close contact with its overseas clients and partner airports, sharing Changi’s best practices and know-how to navigate through this pandemic. 

Where knowledge-sharing was traditionally done through face-to-face sessions, border restrictions made this difficult. One of the ways CAI continues its interactions is via webinars, which enabled a larger audience to tune in, as well as more networking opportunities with the webinar participants.  

CAI hosted a panel session at the Aviation Festival Asia in June this year. It provided a platform for attendees to share ideas on the latest and most vital innovations that are changing the way full-service airlines, low-cost carriers and airports are doing business. 

Senior management from CAI’s portfolio airports shared how they have followed Changi’s lead in implementing various measures, helping to ensure that the airports remain well poised to capture opportunities when recovery of the sector is in sight.    

The webinar attracted more than 300 participants from 22 – 23 June.


Safeguarding health and safety 

Elena Glebova, Acting Chief Operating Officer of Aerodynamics, which owns and operate Anapa, Krasnodar and Sochi International Airports, said, “Changi shared its experiences and we worked together to develop responses for each of our airports. We were thus able to quickly implement new initiatives, update our standard operating procedures and provide staff training.” 

Like Changi, the safety of staff and passengers was of utmost importance. Elena shared that they responded swiftly at the onset of the pandemic, implementing safe management measures such as temperature scanning, mask wearing and social distancing in queues. Hand sanitisers were also provided at the airport counters to minimise risks of the virus spreading. Ultraviolent disinfection machines were also installed at the baggage belts to further reduce the risk of surface contamination. 


The Russian airports operated by Aerodynamics are regularly cleaned with disinfectants. 


In the Russian airports operated by Aerodynamics, screens are installed at the check-in counters and staff wear protective gear such as gloves. 


Pivoting to remain profitable 

Over in Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport (CKG), where CAI has a commercial joint venture with Chongqing Airport Group to manage and develop the non-aeronautical business of the airport, traffic was similarly decimated by the pandemic. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, more than 90% of the commercial outlets closed. 

Following Changi Airport’s practice, CKG focused on retaining tenants and conserving cash. CKG also quickly shifted the commercial strategy to target local residents, helping airport tenants recover lost sales and generate new revenue streams through e-commerce. With these measures and a robust cost management system, CKG was able to remain profitable in 2020, indicating the resilience of the commercial joint venture throughout the pandemic. 


Continued efforts in wooing airlines and engaging regulatory authorities 

Traffic development remains an utmost priority as airports prepare for post-Covid recovery.  

Teo Chin Leong, Chief Commercial Officer (Aero) at Fukuoka Airport (FUK), shared that they are engaging the relevant authorities in Japan to try to shape the best regulatory outcomes that are conducive for traffic recovery. Meanwhile, efforts to woo airlines have seen results, as slots application from Chinese carriers increased by more than 40%. “This shows that Fukuoka Airport continues to be an attractive destination for airlines in Asia,” Teo enthused.  

Like Changi Airport, FUK’s operator is determined to ensure the safety of passengers and airport users. With CAI’s support, FUK recently obtained the ACI Airport Health Accreditation, becoming the second airport in Japan to achieve this. The certification, which evaluates an airport’s health measures and industry best practices, affirmed the airport’s commitment to the safety of airport users.  

FUK has also moved up the ranks in the annual Skytrax Best Airport Award since CAI’s involvement in its operations in 2019. This year, it ranks 27th, up from 39th place in 2020.  


Efforts to woo airlines in Fukuoka Airport have seen results, as slots application from Chinese carriers increased by more than 40%. 


Sher Khan, managing director at CAI, said, “The success at these airports are in part due to training and knowledge sharing from Changi Airport even before the pandemic. We are heartened by the close collaboration we have with our partner airports and overseas clients. We will continue to work closely with them to share best practices and knowledge as we navigate through and beyond this pandemic.” 


Staff at Fukuoka Airport giving a traditional Japanese send-off for departure flights.

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