SINGAPORE: The official opening of Airbus' new integrated campus amid the COVID-19 pandemic is a “statement of confidence in Singapore”, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Friday (Nov 20).
Speaking at the inauguration of the new Airbus Singapore Campus, Mr Chan said the aviation industry is “defensive”, with the sector hit hard by the pandemic.
“Even in the depths of crisis, we are not playing defensive. Even in the depths of a crisis, we are constantly partnering one another, to look ahead to see what else we can do to talk about a more decarbonised aviation future that we are all able to partake in,” said the minister.
The campus was originally scheduled to be inaugurated in February, but was delayed because of the pandemic.
Located at Seletar Aerospace Park, the new campus spans 51,000 sq m. It is an expansion of an existing site that houses the Airbus Asia Training Centre, a joint venture between Airbus and Singapore Airlines, as well as the company’s Asia-Pacific spare parts distribution facility, operated by Airbus subsidiary Satair.
New facilities at the campus include offices serving as the firm’s regional hub for its commercial aircraft, and its defence, space and helicopter businesses.
In addition, a second Satair warehouse has increased storage volume and capacity by more than 70 per cent.
“The new campus in Singapore reflects our ongoing commitment to our presence in key regions,” said Airbus chief commercial officer and head of Airbus International Christian Scherer.
“From Singapore, we can connect more easily with customers and other stakeholders across Asia and the Pacific, acting swiftly to meet their needs. This is especially important during these challenging times.”
SINGAPORE STATUS AS LOGISTIC HUB STRENGTHENED
Air travel has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as countries around the world imposed travel restrictions and border closures. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is estimating a 66 per cent drop in air traffic this year compared with last year.
“Air … passenger traffic is not expected to return to the pre COVID-19 levels before 2024,” said Mr Chan, adding that it had a direct knock-on effect on the economy and the sector.
Singapore’s aerospace industry has “not been spared”, and has seen declines in output, with jobs being cut.
“But there are signs, positive signs of a gradual recovery. Some segments, such as air cargo, have continued to perform relatively well during the crisis,” he said.
Singapore’s status as a logistic hub has “strengthened” through the crisis, he added, because of its “forward-leaning posture” and commitment to keep air and sea links open.
Airlines will also gradually return their fleet to service.
“The proportion of passenger jets back in (service) has increased from 40 per cent in April to 65 per cent in September. And a key driver for this recovery will be the ability of many Asian countries to contain the virus,” said Mr Chan.
“The better we are able to do this, the faster and more sustainable will our recovery be. However, the overall situation will remain fluid and uncertain for many more months to come.”
Singapore will gradually open up more to air travel, based on the “observed prevalence rate” in different countries, and with safety protocols in place.
The growth of Airbus in Singapore has “catalysed an entire generation” of small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) working in partnership with Airbus, said Mr Chan.
“It has also created a new generation of jobs for Singaporeans with much higher and more diverse aspirations,” he added.
Located at the campus is a new Southeast Asian operation for Airbus digital services platform, Skywise.
The team based in Singapore will be involved in “exploring potential partnerships” with start-ups and other tech providers in the region, said Airbus in a press release.
Additionally, the campus will be home to a branch of the global Airbus Leadership University, providing training and development programmes for company employees.
When operational, the Singapore facility will complement an existing centre in Beijing, and will offer courses to employees based at Airbus offices across the region.
“We have every confidence that if this is the crisis of a generation, this is the worst crisis of the aviation industry,” said Mr Chan.
“But yet, at the depth of this crisis, we are able to make such a strong statement and commitment to the future of this industry.
“Then really, there are not many things that will be able to stop us from growing this partnership and taking this to even greater heights in time to come.”