Singapore could handle up to 700,000 flights a year by end of next decade: Josephine Teo

Travellers and tourists at the arrival hall of Changi Airport Terminal 1.
Travellers and tourists at the arrival hall of Changi Airport Terminal 1.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore could handle 700,000 flights a year by the time Changi Airport Terminal 5 is up and running at the end of the next decade, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo on Thursday (Feb 18).

This is double the airline traffic that Changi Airport is handling now.

The number does not include flights that overfly Singapore which also come under the responsibility of air traffic controllers here.

Today, Singapore manages about 300,000 of such flights a year, Mrs Teo said.

With traffic expected to increase significantly, Singapore needs to invest in new air traffic management systems and processes to ensure safe flights, she said.

It is also important for countries in the region to work closely together to ensure that flights can be managed efficiently.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow, Mrs Teo said: "It's not going to be enough just to build airport capacity and have lots of room for airlines to move in and out because if you don't have the air traffic management capabilities you won't be able to deal with the capacity."

By the time T4 opens in the second half of next year and the first phase of T5 is ready by the end of the next decade, Changi will more than double its current annual passenger handling capacity of 66 million.

Singapore has launched several initiatives to boost air traffic management capabilities and capacity.

For example, the separation between airlines, especially during peak periods, has been reduced to allow more flights to land and take off.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) also works closely with Changi Airport Group to minimise runway closure times for maintenance and other works.

In 2012, the CAAS set up a $200 million fund to conduct research into air traffic management.

So far, about $120 million has been earmarked for various projects, Mrs Teo said.