Coronavirus: Changi Airport T2 proceeds with plans to suspend operations from May 1

The lights at the Terminal 2 departure hall were dimmed on the afternoon of April 30, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Changi Airport's Terminal 2 will be closed for 18 months from Friday (May 1) as the airport cuts costs during the coronavirus outbreak and gets a head start on planned upgrade works.

The last plane - NQ802 operated by Air Japan - departed for Tokyo on Thursday at about 6.10am.

Changi Airport Group (CAG) said: "The suspension of operations will allow the T2 expansion works announced earlier to be accelerated. Scheduled for completion in 2024, the project can possibly be finished earlier by up to one year."

It noted that the steep decline in passenger traffic, which is likely to last for a while, will allow it to consolidate operations in fewer terminals and save on running costs.

Except for offices and car parks in the public areas, all passenger processing facilities such as check-in, immigration, arrivals and so on will be suspended, as will retail and catering operations.

CAG added that it is working with partners to identify retraining and redeployment opportunities for staff to protect as many jobs as possible during the pandemic.

Carriers with operations in T2 have been reallocated to Terminals 1 and 3.

Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways, for example, are now operating at T3.

CAG has also noted that operations at T4 could be suspended as well, as only a small number of flights are still landing there.

Almost all the shops in Terminal 2 have already closed and very few people were around when The Straits Times visited on Thursday afternoon.

The lights at the departure hall were dimmed, while some were switched off at the arrivals hall.

A taxi driver said he had waited for about five hours without a single passenger.

The suspension of operations means there will be no skytrain services to and from T2 although the link bridge to Jewel will remain open.

CAG and other airport operators and airlines worldwide have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has almost wiped out demand for air travel.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said on Wednesday that global passenger traffic data showed that demand dived 52.9 per cent in March compared with the same month last year.

"This was the largest decline in recent history. March was a disastrous month for aviation," said Iata.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.