Singapore's Air Shipment Industry Takes Off Despite Challenges

Singapore's Air Shipment Industry Takes Off Despite Challenges

Air shipment has been a key player in Singapore's economy for decades, accounting for a significant portion of the country's total trade volume. In fact, air freight has become increasingly important in recent years, especially as Singapore has solidified its position as a global hub for trade and logistics.

History of Air Freight in Singapore

The first commercial flights between Singapore and Penang began in 1929, marking the start of air travel in the city-state. However, it wasn't until the 1980s that air freight really took off, as the government implemented policies promoting air hub development and infrastructure.

In 1990, Singapore's Changi Airport established itself as a major aviation hub, with Singapore Airlines becoming one of the world's leading airlines. Air freight continued to grow throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and by the mid-2010s, it had become an essential part of Singapore's economy.

Current Status of Air Shipment in Singapore

According to the latest data from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, air freight accounted for almost 1.9 million tonnes of cargo in 2019, amounting to over S$88 billion in trade value. Singapore's position as a global trade hub means that air freight is a crucial component of the country's logistics infrastructure, with most major airlines operating out of Changi Airport.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on air freight in Singapore, as travel restrictions and reduced demand have decreased the volume of air cargo. According to the World Bank, air freight declined by around 40% globally in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Singapore's air freight industry has been no exception, as the country saw a 22% drop in air cargo throughput in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Despite these challenges, Singapore's air freight industry remains resilient, with the government and industry players working to adapt to changing market conditions. The country's advanced logistical infrastructure, including Changi Airport's world-class facilities and robust transport network, has enabled air freight to continue to operate effectively despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Challenges and Regulatory Policies

As with any industry, air freight in Singapore faces a number of challenges and regulatory policies that could impact its growth. One of the key challenges is the increasing competition from other regional hubs such as Hong Kong and Shanghai, as well as emerging players such as Dubai and Doha. These hubs are expanding their logistical infrastructure and offering more competitive pricing, which could draw business away from Singapore.

Moreover, changing environmental regulations and concerns about carbon emissions are also a challenge for the air freight industry. Many airlines are facing pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, which could lead to increased costs for air cargo transport.

To address these challenges, the Singapore government has implemented policies promoting sustainable growth in the air freight industry. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore has implemented regulations to reduce carbon emissions and improve fuel efficiency, while the government has also invested in the development of electric and hybrid cargo vehicles.

Types of Products Transported and Ports to Consider

Singapore's air freight industry transports a wide variety of goods, including electronics, pharmaceuticals, and high-value goods such as precious metals and jewelry. With advanced screening facilities and security measures, air freight is well-suited for transporting high-value, time-sensitive goods.

For companies looking to get involved in air shipment in Singapore, Changi Airport is the obvious choice, accounting for over 90% of Singapore's air cargo throughput.

Trends and Forecasts for the Future

Despite the challenges facing the air freight industry in Singapore, the prognosis for the future remains optimistic. According to a report by the Singapore Business Federation, the global air freight market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.4% between 2020 to 2025, with Asia-Pacific being one of the fastest-growing regions.

In addition, Singapore is well-positioned to take advantage of trends such as e-commerce and the growth of emerging markets in Southeast Asia. With its advanced logistical infrastructure and strong partnerships with global industry players and logistics companies, Singapore is likely to remain a key player in the global air freight industry.


Singapore's air freight industry has come a long way since its inception, and it remains an integral part of the city-state's economy. With challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing competition from regional hubs, the industry must continue to evolve to remain competitive.

However, with its strategic location, advanced logistical infrastructure, and government policies promoting sustainable growth, Singapore is well-suited to capitalize on the trends and changes in the air freight industry. As the economy continues to recover and demand for air cargo increases, the future looks bright for air shipment in Singapore.

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