Changi Airport T4 to reopen in September, half of T2 to be operational by October

SINGAPORE – Changi Airport’s handling capacity will return to its pre-Covid-19 level of 70 million passengers per year by October, as the authorities said on Friday (June 10) that Terminal 4 will reopen in September and operations will be increased to half of T2 by October.

This is on the back of a faster-than-anticipated increase in passengers in the last two months. Singapore dropped most of its Covid-19 restrictions in April.

Transport Minister S. Iswaran made the announcement on Friday, and said the authorities are planning around the parameters of a full recovery of passenger traffic in the winter season, which begins on Oct 30.

Currently, only T1 and T3 are fully open. They have the capacity to handle 46 million passengers a year, two-thirds of 2019 volumes.

“We have seen a very strong uptick in travel. Volumes have increased quite sharply in the space of the last two to three months (and is now) about 2½ times of what it was in March,” Mr Iswaran told reporters at T2.

“We want to make sure that we continue to be well prepared for this growth. It does not mean that we will necessarily hit (70 million) in terms of actual passenger traffic, so this is more about planning for capacity.”

The decision to reopen T2 and T4 was made after airlines requested that Changi Airport reopen more of its infrastructure so that they can reinstate and increase the frequency of their flights by year end.

Passenger numbers are now at 48 per cent of what it was before, and exceeded 50 per cent on a few days of June.

A manpower crunch and the still evolving health situation, however, remain concerns. The Government has warned of a possible Covid-19 wave later in the year and one monkeypox case has already been traced back to a passenger who transited through Singapore to Australia on June 1, although the Ministry of Health (MOH) has said there is no significant risk of transmission.

Both T2 and T4 had been closed in 2020, due to plummeting passenger numbers and renovation works. To process increasing summer holiday travelers, T2’s arrival hall in the southern wing was opened in late May.

With the latest move, the departure hall of T2’s southern wing and the entire Terminal 4 will be open. T2’s northern wing continues to undergo upgrading.

Mr Iswaran said the sector understands that increasing operational capacity also means rapidly increasing its manpower, since the number of airport workers fell by about one-third during the pandemic.

He said the recently held OneAviation Careers job fair had a good response and that companies are now working through the applications.

In addition to attracting Singaporeans back to the industry, foreign workers must also be brought in, he said.

“We want to make sure that even as we accommodate these sharp levels in travel volumes, we do so in a manner that does not diminish the Changi experience that we are known for,” said Mr Iswaran, in response to a question about service at Changi.

“We do ask for the cooperation and understanding of passengers if they run into the odd problem, because it is in the nature of these sorts of adjustments that you may encounter a hassle or two. But by and large, the community is very focused on it.”

Asked if Changi Airport will put in additional precautionary measures to prevent transmissions of diseases on its premises, the minister said the country has put in appropriate measures according to MOH protocols, such as phone surveillance of people who have come into close contact with the monkeypox patient .

“If the situation evolves, then our own measures will evolve in accordance,” he said.

Changi Airport Group said airlines that were previously operating at T4, primarily budget carriers but also full service carriers like Cathay Pacific and Korean Air, are expected to be relocated back to the terminal when it reopens.

Talks with potential tenants are also in the works. A small number of retail outlets and food and beverage options will be available to passengers when the terminals begin operations.

The Shilla Duty Free shop for beauty products and Lotte Duty Free shop for duty-free wines and spirits will open in T2 in August and September respectively.