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The new terminal is now expected to complete by the mid-2030s, Transport Minister S Iswaran announced on May 17. — TODAY pic
The new terminal is now expected to complete by the mid-2030s, Transport Minister S Iswaran announced on May 17. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, May 17 — Work on the upcoming Changi Airport Terminal 5 (T5) will resume following a two-year hiatus, with the new terminal expected to be ready to meet traveller demand “around the mid-2030s”, Minister for Transport S Iswaran said today.

Construction will begin in two to three years’ time depending on the pace of travel recovery, he said at the Changi Aviation Summit, which saw over 300 global aviation leaders, policy makers and senior aviation executives attend the event at Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

The new completion timeline will mean that the project remains roughly on schedule even though the pandemic halted works on the new terminal.

T5 and the Changi East development were originally slated for completion in the 2030s, before the construction work was paused for two years at the start of the pandemic in 2020 by then-Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

At the time, Khaw cited “great uncertainties” about the future of the aviation and travel industry amid the coronavirus outbreak, and decided to pause the project given the questions raised by the global health crisis.

Today, Iswaran said that the projected recovery of global aviation has given the Government a new reason to revisit the project, and that it has reviewed the design of the terminal during the hiatus to make it more modular and flexible, while enhancing its resilience and sustainability.

The Government will also “re-mobilise” design and engineering consultants progressively, to update and further refine the T5 design, he added.

“Given the current and projected recovery in air travel demand, we have a renewed impetus to secure our infrastructural capacity for growth,” said Iswaran. 

There has been “encouraging signs of recovery”, with air passenger traffic recovering to nearly half of pre-pandemic levels, said Iswaran. In Singapore, passenger traffic has already more than doubled to above 40 per cent of pre-Covid levels in May, compared to just under 20 per cent in mid-March.

In Europe and North America, air passenger traffic recovered to about 65 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes by April while Asia-Pacific reached 20 per cent, due to more conservative border measures, he said. 

With countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea reopening borders to all fully vaccinated travellers from April, Iswaran said the recovery of aviation in the Asia-Pacific will gather momentum over the next several months.

Nevertheless, he said it is important not to forget pre-Covid capacity challenges even though there are good reasons to be optimistic about the future growth of air travel demand.

“Many airports had put in place expansion plans before the pandemic. These plans would now have to be revisited to safely, seamlessly, and sustainably support a return to pre-pandemic rates of growth in air travel,” he said. — TODAY

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