Wanted: Engineers to expand Changi Airport

Senior vice-president (engineering and development) Koh Ming Sue with engineers (from left) Yong Swee Ying, Teoh Yan Lian and Elsie Tan. The airport aims to capitalise on growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

SINGAPORE - Changi Airport is ramping up engineer recruitment amid its biggest expansion push in more than three decades.

The construction of Terminal 4 will start later this year and work will begin on a third runway next year.

Plans are being finalised for the building of a new complex where the T1 open-air carpark is now located.

In the longer term, there is T5, which will be ready in the middle of the next decade, said Changi Airport Group's senior vice-president (engineering and development) Koh Ming Sue.

The airport, which has about 130 engineers, aims to hire 50 more this year, he told The Straits Times last Friday.

"This is more than the total number recruited in the last four years.

"When work starts on T5, we will need to ramp up hiring again."

Despite the general labour crunch, Changi's brand name, a competitive salary package and efforts to reach out to tertiary students have helped fill vacancies, said Ms Goh Hwai Kar, a vice-president in Changi's human resource division.

Mr Koh said: "About 10 of our experienced engineers who left to pursue opportunities at other airports in the Middle East, India and other markets have also come back. Their experience will prove very useful to us at this time."

The expansion aims to position the Singapore airport to capitalise on growth in the Asia-Pacific - the fastest-growing aviation market.

Rival airports in Hong Kong, South Korea, India and China are also expanding.

Last year, Changi's total passenger traffic hit 51.2 million, a 10 per cent jump from 2011, while aircraft take-offs and landings grew 7.6 per cent to 324,700.

The new T4 will open in 2017 and handle up to 16 million passengers a year.

Work on the third runway will allow Changi to handle a growing number of flights, said Mr Koh.

The strip is located on a 1,000ha piece of land - this is about three-quarters the size of the current airport premises - which has been set aside for the construction of T5.

The runway, now used for military purposes, will be lengthened to cater to bigger jets.

Changi will also build a bigger fire station, as well as 40km of taxiways to link the new runway to the existing airport, Mr Koh said.

As part of expansion plans, the airport is also constructing more than 50 aircraft parking bays in the next five to seven years, he said.

Ms Elsie Tan, 42, who was part of the engineering team for T3 which opened in 2008, is now in the T4 team.

The job offers many different opportunities, she said.

"I was also involved in The Slide@T3 - the world's tallest slide in an airport. My children, who are three and six, love it."