Singapore cannot afford to be complacent in aviation ambitions: President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob walking past self check-in counters during her visit to Changi Airport Terminal 4 on Sept 26, 2017.
President Halimah Yacob walking past self check-in counters during her visit to Changi Airport Terminal 4 on Sept 26, 2017.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Singapore's aviation sector must continue to improve to capture the growing number of air travellers, said President Halimah Yacob.

"Even as we are improving in Singapore, other countries are also improving, so we cannot be complacent," she said, after touring Changi Airport Terminal 4 on Tuesday (Sept 26), ahead of its opening at the end of October.

The new terminal can handle up to 16 million passengers a year. With its opening, the total handling capacity of Changi Airport will increase to 82 million passengers annually.

In 2016, the International Air Transport Association predicted that more than half of the 7.2 billion expected travellers over the next 18 years would be from the Asia-Pacific.

Though Singapore should aim to capture a portion of that market as the Republic's aviation sector expands - Terminal 5, expected to be completed in the late 2020s, will be able to handle 50 million passengers per year - it cannot afford to rest on its laurels, she said.

During her visit, President Halimah was shown some of the features of the new terminal, such as the Peranakan-themed heritage zone and a 70m-by-5m LED wall with an animated showcase of Singapore's skyline and Asean landmarks.

She also viewed some of the technology being employed to help enhance both the efficiency and security of Terminal 4. These include a facial recognition system, centralised security screening, as well as the Terminal's self-service check-in options.

Describing Changi Airport as a "national icon and a strategic asset of Singapore", Madam Halimah said such use of technology would enhance productivity and free up workers to further develop their skills to do more meaningful work.

"The aviation sector is very much part of the larger economy here, and it creates good jobs," she said.