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Changi mulling over need for 4th runway

It is part of a larger study on runway capacity, even as 3rd strip is planned. -ST
Karamjit Kaur

Wed, Mar 20, 2013
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Changi Airport is studying the need for a fourth runway to cater to more flights in the coming decades, even as plans are finalised for a third landing and take-off strip.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is seeking consultants to look into the feasibility and benefits of a fourth runway, The Straits Times found out.

When contacted, a CAAS spokesman said the authority is undertaking a study to determine technical and other details for the implementation of a three-runway operation.

She said: "We will also be taking the opportunity to assess the potential incremental benefits that additional airport infrastructure in the future could bring about."

Speaking during last Wednesday's Budget debate, Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said Changi Airport will have a third runway by the end of this decade.

It will be on a plot of reclaimed land near the airport, with Changi Coast Road separating them.

The new runway will be redeveloped from an existing one that is now used for military purposes.

Industry watchers expect that when a fourth runway is eventually built, it will be at the same site.

The 1,080ha site has been earmarked for the construction of a new mega terminal, as well as supporting facilities like an air cargo centre, by the mid 2020s.

Actual plans will be finalised and unveiled this year, said Mrs Teo in Parliament.

She did not give specifics but added that existing roads may also have to be diverted.

A big question is how the development will impact Changi Coast Road, transport and airport experts said. Options include removing the road or a diversion, in which case it would most likely be moved closer to the coast, they said.

With air traffic growth in the Asia-Pacific region outpacing that of other regions, industry experts have warned that countries that do not invest in their airports risk losing business to rivals.

Changi Airport, which handled a record 51.2 million passengers last year, is now building Terminal 4 and expanding Terminal 1.

The added capacity will enable Changi to handle up to 85 million passengers a year compared with the current 73 million by 2018.

Ms Angela Gittens, director- general of Airports Council International, a global trade body that represents major airports, said Singapore, as well as countries like China and Malaysia, is on the right track.

But others like India, Indonesia and Vietnam need to catch up, she told The Straits Times during a recent visit here.

Based on data collated by aviation consultancy firm OAG, airports in the region will grow at an annual rate of between 4 per cent and 14 per cent over the next few years.

If plans by ASEAN countries to lift regional flying restrictions on member-country airlines materialise by 2015, they will also add more pressure to existing and planned infrastructure, added OAG's Asia-Pacific vice-president Mario Hardy.

"The impact on travellers will be an increasing amount of flight delays due to air traffic congestions, busy airport terminals unable to cope with the traffic going through, and longer lines at security, immigration and Customs."

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