Terminal 5 was scheduled to be completed around 2030.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE — The mega Changi Airport Terminal 5 project will be paused for at least two years amid uncertainty about how the Covid-19 pandemic will change the aviation sector, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Tuesday (June 16).

He said that the Singapore government is currently carrying out a study of how the aviation sector will change, and that the design of T5 will be changed to take into account new safety requirements.

He said that under normal circumstances, the government would have to start calling for major civil engineering tenders to meet its initial timeline for completing the terminal in the 2030s.

But until a vaccine is found, there will be fears of future waves of Covid-19 outbreaks, added Mr Khaw.

“Because of all these great uncertainties, we have been doing a major thorough study about aviation, and how it will be like in the next two years, three years, four years, post-pandemic,” he said.

“We are consulting as widely as we can. Big questions remain, and we don’t think we will get the answers very quickly within the next few months. It may take us a couple of years, and that is why we have decided to take a pause in the T5 project… So at the minimum, I think we will push it back by two years.”

Mr Khaw was speaking to 12 scholarship holders from the Ministry of Transport and its agencies during an online meeting.

Also present at the meeting was permanent secretary for transport Loh Ngai Seng and other top officials from the Land Transport Authority, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.

The aviation sector worldwide has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with travel restrictions and fear of the virus leading to plunging travel demand.

Changi Airport and local airlines have been hard hit as well.

In April, Changi Airport handled 25,200 passenger movements, a 99.5 percent drop from the same time last year.

In response, Changi Airport Group has shut down T2 for 18 months to facilitate upgrading works. It has also temporarily closed T4.

T5 was scheduled to be completed around 2030. It covers a land area equivalent to about 667 football fields, and was earmarked to provide future capacity for the airport to ride on the projected growth in air travel.

It was to handle up to 50 million passengers per year in its initial phase.

This, along with the T2’s upgrading works, would have brought Changi Airport’s total passenger handling capacity to around 140 million passengers per year.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said in a national address on Sunday that Singapore’s major infrastructure projects, including Changi T5, will be completed, even though timelines may shift.

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