Changi Airport's Runway 3 works on hold till after Singapore Airshow in February

SINGAPORE - Major works to give Changi Airport a third landing strip to handle a growing number of flights have been put on hold until after February.

This is because Runway 3, which is currently used for military flights, will be needed for the Singapore Airshow from Feb 16 to 21.

The runway currently sits on a 1,000ha plot of land where the future Terminal 5 and other new airport facilities will be built.

It is located near the exhibition site, where the air show will be held, and about 1.6km away from the current airport premises.

Before the runway can be used by Changi Airport for commercial aircraft, it also needs to be lengthened and strengthened to handle bigger planes like the Airbus 380 superjumbo.

More than 40km of taxiways - about the length of the Pan-Island Expressway from Tuas to Tampines - will also need to be built to connect Runway 3 to the airport's two existing runways.

But this can be done only after the air show, said a Changi Airport Group spokesman. He was giving The Straits Times an update on the project's progress and work schedule following the awarding of the contract for the first package of construction works.

The works related to the development of Changi Airport's three-runway system were awarded to a joint venture formed by Samsung C&T Corporation and Koh Brothers in October.

The scope of the project includes pavement works, drainage works, security fencing and perimeter roads, mechanical and electrical works, as well as supporting works such as major services and road diversions.

Once the third runway is operational, Runway 2 will be closed temporarily - in 2019 at the earliest - to complete the network of taxiways.

The airport's three-runway system is expected to be operational in the early 2020s.

Changi's biggest expansion to date also includes plans for a mega passenger terminal as well as air cargo and other related facilities.

When T5 is ready in about a decade, it will have an initial handling capacity of about 50 million passengers a year - more than T1 and T2 combined.

The huge investment, expected to run into tens of billions of dollars, comes as rival airports in South-east Asia, North-east Asia and the Middle East race to add capacity to cash in on a growing demand for air travel in the region.

If Singapore does not keep up, it will lose out, the Government has said repeatedly.

Changi Airport is on the right track, analysts say.

Before T5 opens, T4 will start operating in 2017 and construction is also in full swing for Jewel - a $1.7 billion retail-cum-airport structure in front of T1.

National carrier Singapore Airlines is also pushing for expansion and is working to align the operations of the four passenger airlines within the group - SIA, SilkAir, Scoot and Tigerair.

Mr H.R. Mohandas, head of the diploma in aviation management programme at Republic Polytechnic, said: "A strong home carrier with all four arms working as one will ultimately benefit Changi Airport and seal Singapore's status as a premier air hub."

This article was first published on Dec 21, 2015.
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