Singapore: Singapore will suspend operations of Changi Airport’s terminal 2 for 18 months from the beginning of next month following a sharp drop in passenger traffic due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Changi Airport is Singapore’s main civilian airport and is one of the largest transportation hubs in Asia. It has four terminals.
“We will save on running costs for the airport operator, retail tenants, airlines and ground handlers,” Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told Parliament on Monday, after announcing plans to halt operations at the airport’s terminal 2 from May 1.
One terminal is enough to handle the current traffic at the airport, he said.
“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,” said the minister.
Air travel demand has plunged with the coronavirus spreading across the world, severely affecting Changi Airport.
“Importantly, it also allows us to speed up the current upgrading works at T2 (terminal 2) and shorten the project time by up to one year,” The Straits Times quoted Minister Khaw as saying.
With the suspension of terminal 2, airlines will be reallocated in the remaining terminals.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) will consolidate its operations in terminal 3, the daily reported.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had said last month that the number of passengers arriving at the airport fell by more than 90 per cent since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Reduced demand arising from the outbreak and travel restrictions worldwide also hit SIA hard with the carrier cutting 96 per cent of its scheduled flights till end of April.
Khaw acknowledged the turmoil in the aviation sector but pointed out that businesses must be prepared to capitalise on opportunities when the economy recovers.
Right now, one terminal is enough to handle the current volume of demand. We can close down one or two terminals. But we must think about post-pandemic recovery,” the minister said.
The novel coronavirus has claimed nearly 70,000 lives and infected over 1.2 million people across the world after it first surfaced in China in December. It has triggered fears of an economic slowdown and massively hit the tourism and aviation sectors.
In Singapore, there are over 1,300 virus cases and six deaths so far.