Committee recommends third runway, fifth terminal for Changi airport

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Singapore's Changi airport should open its third runway and prepare for a fifth terminal to handle the growth expected over the next two decades, says a government committee.

The inter-agency Changi 2036 Steering Committee, chaired by Singapore's minister of state for transport Josephine Teo, was convened last year to study options to ensure Changi retains its key hub position on the back of growing passenger and aircraft traffic, and rising competition from hubs such as Dubai and Hong Kong.

Speaking in parliament, Teo said the committee has predicted passenger traffic at Changi to grow at an annual compound rate of 5% until the end of 2020, and up to 4% between 2020 and 2030.

To handle the growth expected in the short term, the committee has recommended that the airport's third runway "be readied for civilian co-use as early as possible and we estimate this to be before the end of this decade".

The third runway, parallel to the existing two runways at Changi, is now used exclusively by the Republic of Singapore Air Force. It is not connected to the airport's passenger and cargo terminals.

Preparatory works to link the runway to the terminal infrastructure at the airport has started, and a timeline for the work will be released later this year, says Teo.

The committee has also identified the need for a fifth terminal by mid-2020s.This is despite modifications to Terminal 1 and the building of Terminal 4, which will take Changi's terminal capacity to 83 million passengers per annum.

"To position Changi for the longer-term, we should plan for expansion of its passenger terminal capacity. Other airports are thinking along similar lines," says Teo, citing the recent opening of the new Airbus A380 concourse at Dubai International Airport as an example.

To that end, the committee is working on a concept plan for a 1,080ha (2,670 acres) site at Changi East, which is located between the current runway 2 and runway 3.

"Based on studies done, there is sufficient land to develop a mega-passenger terminal as well as an airfreight centre, an air logistics centre and MRO hubs on the site," says Teo.

Last year, Changi handled a record 51.2 million passengers and 324,000 aircraft movements.