Singapore to double Changi Airport capacity as demand increases

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Passengers stand at Singapore Airlines Ltd.'s economy class check-in counters at Changi Airport in Singapore. Photo: Bloomberg

Singapore plans to almost double the capacity of its airport over the next decade with two terminals as the economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region makes it more affordable for people to travel by air.

Changi airport, Asia's second-busiest for international travel, is expected to handle about 5 percent more passengers each year through the next decade, Singapore's Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said yesterday. A fourth terminal, which will be built by 2017 at a cost of S$1.28 billion ($1 billion), will handle 16 million passengers annually. A fifth will be added in the middle of the next decade to handle 50 million travelers, he said.

"We need to have capacity ahead of demand," Lui said in an interview with Haslinda Amin. "You see rising income levels in Southeast Asiaand Asia. You see aviation being increasingly within the reach of a larger segment of the population."

From Vietnam to Indonesia, more than a dozen budget airlines have started across Southeast Asia in the past decade. Economic growth in the region, with a population that's two times bigger than the U.S., boosted demand for air travel.

The capacity at the fifth terminal, which Lui described as a "mega" terminal, could increase to 75 million, he said. Changi, which serves more than 100 carriers, currently has a capacity to handle of 70 million passengers in the existing three terminals, he said.

The airport will also lengthen an existing runway currently operated by the air force for commercial use, adding to the existing two landing strips. Changi handled 48.6 million visitors in the first 11 months of last year.

The total wealth of millionaires in the Asia-Pacific region may top that of their peers in North America as soon as this year, according to a report by Cap Gemini SA and Royal Bank of Canada published Sept. 25. Travel demand in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to increase 7.4 percent this year, according the International Air Transport Association.

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