SINGAPORE – Plans on the development of the mega Changi Airport Terminal 5 (T5) project are still being reviewed, amid the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on international air travel.
The Ministry of Transport (MOT) said on Monday (Jan 17) that the two-year pause it had announced in May 2020 will enable the authorities to have more clarity on the pace of air travel recovery before deciding how the project should proceed.
“We are reviewing these plans as we continue to rebuild our air hub, and will provide an update on T5 when ready,” said an MOT spokesman.
T5 was scheduled to be completed around 2030. It is expected to cover a land area equivalent to about 667 football fields, and was earmarked to provide future capacity for the airport to ride on the projected growth in air travel.
It was to handle up to 50 million passengers a year in its initial phase.
This, along with Terminal 2’s (T2) upgrading works, would have increased Changi Airport’s total passenger handling capacity by about 65 per cent to around 140 million passengers a year.
But in a sign that recovery has not progressed as fast as initially hoped, the suspension of operations at T2 has been extended.
The terminal was supposed to be closed for 18 months from May 2020, but has not reopened even after the 18-month mark passed in November 2021.
Changi Airport Group told The Straits Times on Monday that the airport plans to resume T2 operations in phases, in tandem with traffic recovery.
The MOT spokesman said on Monday that passenger traffic at Changi Airport has reached about 15 per cent of the levels before the pandemic by the end of December. Further recovery is expected in 2022, she added.
National University of Singapore Law School’s Professor Alan Tan, whose specialisations include aviation law, said that a further delay to T5 would be unsurprising, given that construction is impacted by the lack of workers sourced from overseas as well as problems in the supply chain of building materials.
But Associate Professor Volodymyr Bilotkach, who is from the air transport management degree programme at the Singapore Institute of Technology, said he does not believe plans for T5 should be delayed.
“T5 is about strategy – here, the planning horizon is in decades, not years,” he said.
“As air traffic is expected to return to its growth trajectory after the pandemic, T5 will be crucial for maintaining Singapore’s position in the global competitive world.”