Budget 2021: Aviation sector to get S$870 million in aid this year

Budget 2021: Aviation sector to get S$870 million in aid this year

Singapore Airlines crew members and travellers
Singapore Airlines crew members and travellers are seen at Changi Airport in Singapore on Jan 14, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Airlines and other aviation players will receive a total of S$870 million in financial support this year, as the Government continues its assistance for the beleaguered industry.

In his Budget speech on Tuesday (Feb 16), Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the S$870 million will go towards extending aid for the sector.

As it happened: DPM Heng Swee Keat's Budget 2021 speech

READ: What you need to know about Budget 2021

Some of these measures include a 10 per cent landing charge rebate for all scheduled passenger flights landing in Singapore for airlines, and a 50 per cent rebate on rental paid for ground handling companies’ lounges and offices within Changi Airport and Seletar Airport terminal buildings.

Last year, a total of S$383 million was committed to the aviation sector. This includes the S$112 million Aviation Sector Assistance Package announced in February 2020, the S$187 million Enhanced Aviation Support Package announced in August, and a top-up sum of S$84 million announced last December.

READ: Emerging stronger from COVID-19 crisis the focus of Budget 2021

READ: Government to provide additional S$84 million to aviation sector amid COVID-19 pandemic​​​​​​​

Global air travel recovery will still “take some time” as most international borders remain closed, Mr Heng said on Tuesday. In Singapore, total passenger movements at Changi Airport were only about 2 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels as of end-January this year.

Mr Heng said he expects the sector to use this lull period to improve its capabilities and prepare for the recovery, particularly by investing in travel safety.

“Airports will be differentiated by their capabilities in securing public health and enabling safe travel. They will need digitalised systems and the ability to effectively re-route people and goods,” Mr Heng said of the pandemic’s impact on air travel.

READ: Budget 2021: Jobs Support Scheme extended for worst-hit sectors as part of S$11 billion package

“To secure our position as a key aviation hub and maintain Changi’s position as a safe, trusted, and well-connected airport for travellers and employees alike, we will restore Changi’s connectivity and invest in on-arrival testing and biosafety systems,” he added.

He cited the example of GovTech working with Temasek-founded startup Affinidi to create a software that can verify the authenticity of digital COVID-19 test result certificates and vaccination records.

READ: New S$13.5m grant for key sports businesses like academies, facility operators to defray operating costs

READ: Resilience Package for arts and culture sector will provide support until end of 2020: Baey Yam Keng​​​​​​​

Mr Heng also announced that the Arts and Culture Resilience Package and Sports Resilience Package will be extended this year with an additional S$45 million.

The money will go towards supporting “capability development and sector transformation” so that its players will digitalise and up-skill.

A total of S$55 million and S$50 million have been set aside for the Arts and Culture Resilience Package and the Sports Resilience Package respectively so far. 

Source: CNA/rp

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