Singapore’s massive Changi Terminal 5 is back on after Covid hiatus

Changi Airport, Singapore, where passenger traffic is rebounding (Pulkitsangal/CC BY 3.0)
After two years in limbo, during which authorities in Singapore tried to understand the future of commercial aviation as Covid-19 swept the globe, the multi-billion-dollar project to build Terminal 5 at Changi Airport in the city state is being restarted.

Design and engineering consultants will be re-mobilised and construction should restart in “two to three years”, Singapore’s transport minister said today.

The government halted the project on 16 June 2020 amid fears that the 1,080-hectare Changi East expansion scheme, which includes T5, would stand unused as the novel coronavirus depressed air travel through Singapore to just 0.5% of pre-pandemic levels.

But passenger traffic is rebounding quickly in Singapore as countries ease travel restrictions, putting those fears to rest.

Traffic volume so far this month doubled from March levels to reach more than 40% of pre-Covid volumes, giving the government renewed confidence in the plan, transport minister Mr S Iswaran told attendees at the Changi Aviation Summit 2022.

“Two years ago, we were confronted with the crisis of a generation which decimated air travel,” he said. “Today, we see the green shoots of recovery and encouraging signs of growth.”

Iswaran said design and engineering consultants would be re-mobilised in stages to update and further refine the T5 design.

“Depending on the pace of recovery, we expect to commence the construction of T5 in about two to three years, for T5 to be ready to meet the anticipated demand around the mid-2030s,” he said.

Citing an International Air Transport Association forecast that passenger air traffic in Asia-Pacific will grow at 4.5% annually over the next 20 years, Iswaran said this would double volume in the period.

“It is now up to us, to come together as one global aviation community to sustain the recovery, and enhance our infrastructural, human and environmental capacity for air travel to take off and soar once again,” he said.

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