TL;DR – We need to build T5.
I love Changi Airport. And I’m proud that year after year, it is voted as the best airport in the world.
That’s why I’m extremely excited that we are building Terminal 5.
But there are some people who question why we need to spend so much for such an infrastructural project. There was even one rubbish article that went as far as to claim that Changi Terminal 5 is a fake project to pay for losses by GIC and Temasek Holdings.
Claim: Terminal 5 is said to handle 50 million passengers a year.
WRONG! Upon completion, Terminal 5 can eventually handle 70 million passengers a year.
Claim: Project Jewel can handle 24 million passengers.
WRONG! Project Jewel will will expand the capacity of Terminal 1 from 21 million passengers to 24 million.
Claim: Current capacity of the four terminals is 89 million passengers a year.
WRONG! The current capacity of the four terminals is 82 million passengers a year.
But why does Terminal 5 cost so much?
The article did ask one reasonable question. It asked why does Terminal 5 cost so much more than Terminal 4.
Terminal 4 cost S$985 million and has a capacity of 16 million. Why does Terminal 5, which only handles less than 5 times the the capacity of Terminal, cost more than 12 times?
The reason is because Terminal 5 includes a new runway while Terminal 4 uses the two existing runways. And it’s expensive to build runways. Just ask Hong Kong. Hong Kong is also trying to build a third runway. Guess how much it is going to cost Hong Kong to build the third runway? About S$23 billion. Yup, Hong Kong’s one runway is going to cost nearly double our Terminal 5, which also includes a new runway.
Let’s look at the costs of some other airports.
Beijing is building a new airport that can handle about 100 million passengers a year. That’s going to cost them about SGD17 billion. Given Terminal 5’s capacity compared the Beijing’s new airport, the cost of building Terminal 5 is comparable to that of Beijing’s new airport.
Then there’s the expansion work at London Heathrow Airport, which includes building a new runway. That’s expected to cost about S$26 billion. And the expansion works at London Heathrow will only increase its capacity by about 45 million passengers a year.
But why do we even need Terminal 5?
The aviation industry directly contributes to 3 per cent of the economy and employs 77,000 people. And the aviation industry is set to grow. The number of people flying to, from, and within the region is set to grow. As such, Centre for Aviation chief analyst Brendan Sobie called it a “slam-dunk” investment owing to Asia’s economic and travel growth.
Beyond that, air travel is vital to areas like tourism, hospitality and retail. The finance and business sectors also depend on Singapore’s air connectivity. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said:
“That our airport is so well connected … allows Singaporeans to travel all over the world; it allows business leaders (and) professionals to come to Singapore, (also) using Singapore as a base to go out into the region. Therefore that connectivity brings new business opportunities.”
Having Terminal 5 also means that the other four terminals need not always operate at full capacity. This will give us some opportunity to do whatever upgrades or renovations that may be necessary at the other terminals, given the spare capacity.
So. With all these reasons, you tell me. How can we not build Terminal 5?
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Friend. SIA makes up almost 50 pct of all traffic going thru CA. Where is the extra traffic going to come when you have other carriers opting to use other hubs in the region because they are cheaper and probably serve the same purpose? I.e. HKIA, Suvarnabhumi, KLIA etc. There is also no geographical need for regional point to point traffic to use CA, unless the traffic originates from SG, but sorry population too small to even make a dent. Further, with CAG imposing additional tariffs for transit / arrivals / departs, it will make SIA less competitive. Unless SG experiences another permanent boom in economic activity, not sure how this additional capacity will be met with increased demand. Or maybe the taxpayer will just have to foot the bill in the end.