SINGAPORE - Some businesses at Changi Airport are optimistic about retail and food and beverage sales picking up as passenger traffic recovers, but concerns about whether they have the manpower to maintain the momentum remain.
With latest figures showing that passenger numbers in June reached a target set originally for the year end, two leading players said on Sunday (July 31) that they expect their sales to consistently pick up over the next few months, as more people travel despite fears of new waves of infectious Covid-19 variants.
The Changi Airport Group said on Sunday that 2.9 million passengers used the airport in June, compared with 5.8 million in June 2019, reaching the target it had set for the end of the year of attaining volumes half that of pre-pandemic levels.
CAG said almost all the shops in the public areas in Terminals 1 and 3 have reopened to the public. Since April, four new food and beverage brands have opened at T1 and T3, which are the only terminals fully operating.
One of the new eateries is Hong Kong street food diner Terrace Kitchen, in T1.
Terrace Kitchen is owned by airport hospitality firm Plaza Premium Group, which has been running operations for over a decade in Changi Airport. The company operates TGM and Root98, a shared concept restaurant that serves Japanese and vegetarian dishes. The group also owns a paid lounge in the T1 transit hall that can be used by all travellers, with charging, Wi-Fi and shower facilities.
Mr Steven Lim, the group's regional general manager, said business has picked up by about 80 per cent since April.
"We are quite fortunate to see it up and running because when we tendered for this space a few years back, we were not sure if the airport was even going to be open because of the Covid-19 situation," he said.
He added that the pandemic had a significant impact on the Hong Kong-based group.
"About 97 per cent of our businesses were closed, and it was literally like a standstill, and we had to retrench almost 60 per cent of the team during the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.
While business is picking up, it is still hard to hire staff because people are hesitant now to work in the airport hospitality sector.
Mr Lim said the group started hiring four months ago, and has managed to reach just 70 per cent of its workforce strength.
"We need about 15 to 16 people, including kitchen and service staff in our restaurant, but right now we are running at about 12 staff."
With four new outlets such as Flash Coffee and Matchaya, which opened in T3 in April, food and beverage provider Select Service Partner (SSP) is looking forward to promote its offerings especially with travellers returning.
Mr Jonathan Robinson, chief executive of SSP Asia Pacific, said that even though it is still early to predict if sales from the outlets will be good, they are contented with how passenger traffic is returning and hope the momentum continues.
He said: "It was just a matter of the timing and speed of the recovery, but we've all been pleasantly surprised by the speed of recovery in Singapore and elsewhere."
Correction note: In an earlier version of the story, we said that more than half of the shops have reopened to the public. CAG has clarified that it should be almost all the shops in the public areas in Terminals 1 and 3 have reopened to the public.
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