Fire at Changi T2: Right decision to shut down entire terminal, says aviation experts

Hundreds of passengers were evacuated from Changi Airport's Terminal 2 on May 16 after a small fire broke out.
Hundreds of passengers were evacuated from Changi Airport's Terminal 2 on May 16 after a small fire broke out.PHOTO: AFP

Shutting down an entire terminal over a minor fire may seem like an over-reaction to some, but Changi Airport did the right thing, experts said.

"In this day and age of heightened security alerts, nothing is too small to neglect or downplay," said aviation analyst Shukor Yusof of Endau Analytics.

This is especially so when an incident occurs at a major airport like Changi, which handles almost 60 million passengers a year, he said.

"It is highly unusual for any incident to occur at Changi, so when something does happen, you would expect that they would take extra precautions to ensure everything is in order," said Mr Shukor.

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"Fact is, these days, you can never be sure if a fire is just a fire, for example, or whether there is a terrorist element as well."

Mr Ramanathan Mohandas, head of the diploma programme in aviation management at Republic Polytechnic, said every fire that breaks out at any airport must be dealt with seriously.

 

"Any sign of smoke even should never be taken lightly because if there is a fire, it could spread very quickly and impact critical systems and equipment," he said.

Mr Ramanathan also noted: "A full clean-up needs to be done and systems and processes checked to make sure everything is working properly before the terminal reopens. No point rushing to resume services and risk something else going wrong, which would be even more irritating for passengers."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2017, with the headline 'Right decision to shut down entire terminal: Aviation experts'. Print Edition | Subscribe