SINGAPORE - The Republic aims to almost double its annual cargo handling capacity at Changi Airport, from 3 million to 5.4 million tonnes, to support and benefit from growth in the air cargo sector.
As part of the developments at Changi East, where the future Terminal 5 (T5) is being built, Changi Airport Group (CAG) is also planning an industrial zone, said Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State for Transport.
"In the long term, Singapore will continue to innovate and transform Changi Airport to meet the evolving demands of the air cargo sector... When fully completed, the Changi East Industrial Zone (CEIZ) will almost double our current handling capacity for cargo," Dr Lam said.
T5 is expected to start operating around 2030.
Speaking at the opening of a global cargo conference at Marina Bay Sands on Tuesday (March 12), Dr Lam noted that there have been significant developments in the global air cargo market.
There have been shifts in global supply chains as industries seek higher efficiency, and also recently, more trade protectionism in some parts of the world, he said.
"But one thing remains - air cargo is an important part of the global supply chain and a key enabler of the world trade," he said.
In 2018, the global air cargo community recorded a total volume of over 63 million tonnes of goods.
While this makes up only 1 per cent of the total volume of goods moved, the value of goods moved by air represents more than 35 per cent of world trade.
Dr Lam said: "The outlook of the air cargo industry remains optimistic, especially in Asia Pacific."
This can be attributed to two key trends - emerging growth opportunities in South-east Asia and rising affluence and consumption of Asia's rapidly growing middle class.
Citing e-commerce as an example, Dr Lam said at the 13th edition of the World Cargo Symposium, organised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), that affluent and savvy consumers increasingly expect online orders to be delivered as soon as they click 'Check Out'.
"Singapore's strong air connectivity within South-east Asia and to the rest of the world puts us in a good position to support the growth of e-commerce in the region," he said.
In the long term, it is also important for the sector to innovate and transform, to meet changing needs and demands.
At the new Changi East industrial complex, for example, air freight terminals will be highly automated and data-driven, Dr Lam noted.
Singapore is committed to growing the air cargo industry, he stressed.
"We will strive to enhance our connectivity with the region and beyond, and support industry innovation by offering Singapore as a place to testbed new and innovative ideas," he said.
More than 1,000 people, including industry players and stakeholders, are attending the three-day annual event, being held for the first time in Singapore.