After a two-year pause, Singapore will start constructing Changi Airport Terminal 5, to build up the country’s future capacity as the aviation industry recovers at a rate that was faster than what was initially projected.
On Tuesday (17 May), Transport Minister S. Iswaran stated that the construction will begin in about two to three years. By the mid-2030s, Terminal 5 should be ready and operational, just in time to cope with the anticipated increase in passenger traffic.
The Initial Pause Because of the Pandemic
When the pandemic broke out rapidly in early 2020, it engulfed every country rapidly and sank the world into an unprecedented health crisis.
No matter what North Korea says, I refuse to believe that this is their “first COVID-19 outbreak”.
It’s an airborne disease, not HIV or AIDs which spreads through bodily fluids.
International borders were closed, lockdowns on states and provinces were imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The aviation and tourism industries suffered heavy blows.
In light of the pandemic situation which practically decimated air travels and brought down growth projections to record-lows, the government decided to postpone the project in May 2020.
But it has also given the government time to reconsider their blueprints for T5, and fine-tune the details, while keeping tabs on the recovery of international air travel.
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Upgraded Plans for Changi Terminal 5
During his speech at the inaugural Changi Aviation Summit, Mr Iswaran asserted that the current anticipated increase in air travel demand has renewed their motivations to secure Singapore’s infrastructural capacity for growth.
Prior to his speech, there was a two-day aviation conference held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre, where more than 300 aviation leaders gathered to discuss the future of the industry.
It has also led to more updates in T5’s design to become “more modular and flexible”, which is something that the leaders intend to continue working on.
The International Air Transport Authority (IATA) Director-General Willie Walsh has remarked that international air travel is likely to reach pre-COVID-19 levels again by 2023, which is earlier than what was anticipated.
While the air traffic in the Asia-Pacific regions is still less busy than Europe, America, and Africa, signs in the first quarter have been promising.
The number of passengers at Changi Airport has surpassed 40%of pre-pandemic levels last month, merely 10% short of the government’s 50% target by year-end.
Moreover, Mr Iswaran expects that recovery in the Asia-Pacific region will pick up and gain momentum in the coming months, since countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea have reopened their borders to all fully vaccinated individuals last month.
It’s no surprise we’re lagging behind the other regions, since the majority of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region didn’t take the highway where they dismantled most of the COVID-19 related restrictions in the middle of an Omicron-dominant wave.
(Yes, Europe, I’m referring to you.)
Instead, the Asia-Pacific region has taken apart their own protocols slowly but surely, until we were confident enough that our neighbouring countries had enough control over their pandemic situation.
Furthermore, Singapore is not alone in having plans of expanding their airport. Other countries had to place their projects on hold too.
The fifth terminal will expect to handle 50 million passengers a year in its initial stage, and it covers a land area of 667 football fields.
Since when did Singapore have such a big piece of land???
In addition to the upgrading works being done to Terminal 2, Changi Airport’s total passenger handling capacity will shoot up by 65%, which will be around 140 million passengers per year then.
That’s an astounding number to reckon with.
T2’s operations are still suspended as it continues to be upgraded, though the terminal will open in phases later this year.
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