Address source of flight delays at Changi Airport

Changi Airport is a busy international hub, with more than 7,000 flights per week to some 380 cities worldwide (Changi welcomes record 60m passengers; Dec 19).

But runways and taxiways can process only so many planes per hour. With more arrivals and departures, there will inevitably be more delays.

For instance, on Dec 14, flight SQ208 from Melbourne was scheduled to land at 12.05am, but circled for about 30 minutes before landing, and took another 15 minutes taxiing.

The next day, flight TR425 from Penang was scheduled to land at 6.30pm, but was delayed, made a pit stop at Johor's Senai International Airport, and landed at Changi only at 9.25pm.

A three-hour delay is not a brief setback.

It is tempting to think that cases like these are isolated, but my experience and anecdotal evidence suggest they are now a problem.

Is this a new normal, in which passengers and airlines are resigned to a certain level of inconvenience?

What percentage of flights land and take off on time? Is first-scheduled, first-served still in practice?

It seems that air travel demand has grown so swiftly that it has exceeded the capacity that Changi Airport is able to comfortably handle.

Passengers have a right to be treated fairly and with respect.

It is necessary to examine more closely how and where delays occur in order to obtain a clearer picture of the severity of the problem and the points at which it can be adequately addressed so as to improve punctuality during periods of high demand or bottlenecks.

Demand for air travel is still expanding.

The challenge for Changi Airport is to work with the industry to meet that demand with infrastructure and advanced technologies that can accommodate the growth.

Loong Chik Tong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2017, with the headline 'Address source of flight delays at Changi Airport'. Print Edition | Subscribe