Coronavirus and travel: Singapore to stop work on new fifth terminal at Changi Airport

Singapore will halt construction of a new terminal at Changi Airport for at least two years as it studies how the aviation industry will develop after the coronavirus outbreak wiped out travel demand.

The building of a fifth terminal will be put on hold until the study is completed, Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said in a meeting with officials Tuesday. The government had planned to invite tenders for major sub-structure works in October, he said, with the new facility originally planned to be completed in 2030.

"I am quite confident that aviation will recover, but how fast it will recover is a big question mark," Khaw said. "We don't think we will get the answers very quickly within the next few months. It will take us a couple of years."

Airlines have slashed capacity as the virus that's killed more than 436,000 is discouraging people from flying, with governments imposing travel restrictions to curb the pandemic. Singapore Airlines, the biggest carrier in Southeast Asia, said last month that it could take 12 to 18 months for capacity to recover to levels seen before the outbreak.

Singapore has been working on a third runway and the fifth terminal, which will be the size of three existing ones put together, to meet growing demand. Before the pandemic stuck, the International Air Transport Association estimated that travel in the Asia-Pacific region will more than double in the next two decades.

Changi, Asia's third-busiest airport for international travel, temporarily closed Terminal 4 from May 16 due to declining passenger traffic. In the first four months of this year, passengers handled at Changi halved to 11.1 million.


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