T5 to cement Changi's air hub position

The giant new air terminal to be built in Changi will focus on shortening the time for travellers to catch a connecting flight and reducing walking distances, as Singapore seeks to cement its position as a hub for air travel within Asia and across the world.

Slated to open in a decade, Terminal 5 will initially be able to handle up to 50 million passengers. Room for another 15 million to 20 million passengers will be added in future if needed.

With the main T5 building set to be bigger than T2 and T3 combined, it is important that the connecting times for passengers changing flights and walking distances are kept short, said industry analysts.

A steering committee led by Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo had earlier rejected two proposed layouts.

The final plan features long linear piers instead of sharp corners and cul-de-sacs to allow for more efficient parking and movement of aircraft.

To be built on a piece of reclaimed land separated from the current airport by Changi Coast Road, the T5 project will be the biggest airport project here since the move from Paya Lebar Airport to Changi in 1981.

From 66 million passengers now, Changi will be able to handle up to 85 million by 2018, when T4 is ready and T1 is expanded. By the time T5 starts operating, Changi's annual capacity will hit 135 million passengers.

The building of the new terminal mainly accounts for the 80 per cent rise in the Transport Ministry's $10.9 billion annual budget.

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An update on Singapore's plans to grow the aviation sector was given in Parliament by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew yesterday, when he also said that a third runway is in the works.

He noted that, despite a passenger traffic slowdown last year with growth of under 1 per cent, the long-term projection is for Changi to grow by about 3 per cent to 4 per cent annually over the next two decades.

It will be bursting at the seams by the middle of the next decade, hence the need for T5.

"Our ambition is for Singapore to remain as South-east Asia's foremost air hub and one of the major hubs in Asia and the world. To do this, we must ensure that Changi is able to accommodate future growth," Mr Lui said.

If growth is slower than projected, the pace of construction for T5 can be adjusted, he added in response to a concern raised by Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC).

Replying to Mr Seng Han Thong (Ang Mo Kio GRC) on safety and security issues, Mr Lui said that, among other initiatives, Singapore is working with the International Civil Aviation Organisation to improve aircraft tracking systems.

For instance, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore will, from this year, require all planes operated by Singapore carriers to be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast transmitters.

The gadget will allow an aircraft's location to be broadcast more often, which will increase tracking accuracy, especially over areas beyond radar coverage.

To further boost the aviation sector, industry players, including airlines and ground handlers, will continue to get support for productivity and other initiatives.

Launched in 2010, the $100 million Aviation Development Fundwill receive a boost of $160 million.


This article was first published on March 12, 2015.
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