Plans for Changi's T5 still under review, says ministry

Plans for the development of the mega Changi Airport Terminal 5 project are still being reviewed amid the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on international air travel.

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) said on Monday that the two-year pause it had announced in May 2020 will give the authorities more clarity on the pace of air travel recovery before deciding how the project should proceed.

"We are reviewing these plans as we continue to rebuild our air hub, and will provide an update on T5 when ready," said MOT.

T5 was scheduled to be completed around 2030. It was to handle up to 50 million passengers a year in its initial phase.

This, along with Terminal 2's upgrading works, would have increased Changi Airport's total passenger handling capacity by about 65 per cent to around 140 million passengers a year.

But in a sign that recovery has not progressed as quickly as initially hoped, the suspension of operations at T2 has been extended.

An MOT spokesman said passenger traffic at Changi Airport reached about 15 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of last month. Further recovery is expected this year, she added.

The National University of Singapore law school's Professor Alan Tan, whose specialisations include aviation law, said a further delay to T5 would be unsurprising, given that construction is affected by the lack of workers sourced from overseas and problems in the supply chain of building materials.

But Associate Professor Volodymyr Bilotkach from the air transport management degree programme at the Singapore Institute of Technology said he does not believe plans for T5 should be delayed. "As air traffic is expected to return to its growth trajectory after the pandemic, T5 will be crucial for maintaining Singapore's position in the global competitive world."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2022, with the headline Plans for Changi's T5 still under review, says ministry. Subscribe