Changi Airport Singapore will be suspending operations at Terminal 2 (T2) for 18 months from May due to Covid-19 impact. The Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Monday (6 April) said, “Right now, one terminal is enough to handle the current volume of demand. We can close down one or two terminals,” he said.
He also said, “But we must think about post-pandemic recovery. While full recovery this year is unlikely, partial recovery next year is probable. We must be ready to lead, and to ride the recovery when it happens.”
The move comes amid plunging air traffic amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely impacted Changi Airport and businesses located there.
“Changi Airport is deserted. Airlines, ground handlers, airport shops and restaurants have experienced a sharp fall in business. The workers have seen huge pay cuts“, said Khaw.
The Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat also announced $5.1 billion Solidarity Budget to help the Singapore economy tide through its one-month circuit breaker period.
After the announcement, Khaw said, “closing t-2 will save on running costs for the airport operator, retail tenants (and) airlines. Importantly, it also allows us to speed up the current upgrading works at T2 and shorten the project time by up to one year,” he said.
“We will ensure sufficient capacity for all airlines to grow when passenger traffic recovers,” he added.
Khaw also said that the pandemic’s impact on air travel and airport operations would also affect the development of Terminal 5 (T5). “Fortunately T5 was designed to be modular so the construction can be scaled up and down as necessary,” he said.
Noting the importance of SIA as an “anchor” for Singapore’s economy and the number of people whose livelihoods depend on Changi Airport, Khaw explained that this was why swift action was taken to “prevent the loss of strategic capabilities and maintain our position as a reliable air hub”.
Airline staff not sitting idle:
Khaw noted that crew members from SIA, Scoot and SilkAir have not been sitting idle amid the crisis, and have been “actively engaged in our national battle against COVID-19”.
“First, they continue to move around 40 return passenger flights a week to ASEAN capitals and economic hubs in Asia, Australia, Europe and the US,” he said.
While crew aboard short-haul flights do not leave the plane during the turnaround, those serving on long-haul flights stay at airport hotels during their layovers and do not leave their rooms. On all the flights, cabin crew members wear masks and minimize their contact with passengers.
“And that was how we were able to evacuate two batches of Singaporeans from Wuhan in February. That was also how we brought our students back from the UK and the US last month,” said Khaw.
Around 800 crew and ground staff from various aviation companies, including SIA, have also come forward to help at hospitals as care ambassadors, to work as social service officers and to become NTUC customer service associates.