Travellers at Changi Airport may face some delays as leaders arrive for Asean Summit

The Straits Times understands that while there are no plans to close the airspace to accommodate the arriving flights, there will be airspace control measures which include maintaining a greater gap between VIP flights and other commercial services.
The Straits Times understands that while there are no plans to close the airspace to accommodate the arriving flights, there will be airspace control measures which include maintaining a greater gap between VIP flights and other commercial services.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Travellers at Changi Airport may face some delays as key Asean and global leaders fly into town for the 33rd Asean Summit and related meetings this week.

The VIPs and their delegations are expected to arrive before the summit officially opens on Tuesday (Nov 13).

Many will fly in on their own official or private planes, with close to 20 such arrivals expected, The Straits Times understands.

On how this could impact travellers on commercial flights, especially in view of the current holiday season, Mr Rosly Saad, director (air traffic services)at the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said: "We do not expect the flights of the Asean delegations to contribute substantially to delays for passengers."

He told ST on Sunday (Nov 11) that there are "established operating procedures and mitigation measures to manage such flights".

ST understands that while there are no plans to close the airspace to accommodate the arriving flights, there will be airspace control measures which include maintaining a greater gap between VIP flights and other commercial services.

To reduce delays, air traffic controllers will plan for simultaneous independent parallel approaches.

 
 
 
 

This means that instead of just one aircraft landing at any one time at the airport - which is the norm - there could be two landings; one at each of Changi's two runways.

Changi's air traffic controllers will also work with their counterparts at other airports in the region to better manage flights coming in and out of Singapore, for example, by holding departures where necessary and possible.

This may mean a longer wait at the airport for travellers but is deemed to be better than having planes circling in the air and burning fuel.

Once the planes land at Changi - mainly at the VIP complex next to Terminal 2 - they will be parked at the remote bays, away from the aircraft gates that are used for commercial flights.

Apart from the leaders of all 10 Asean member states, heads of key partner nations will also be in town. They are: new Australian PM Scott Morrison, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Indian PM Narendra Modi, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, Russian President Vladimir Putin and United States Vice-President Mike Pence.

Also invited are Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.

Mr Pence and his US delegation are expected to land at Paya Lebar Airport.

The summit will end on Thursday (Nov 15) after which many of the leaders, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, will travel to Papua New Guinea for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) economic leaders' meeting.