Charging airport levy earlier means avoiding large spikes later: Ng Chee Meng

Charging airport levy earlier means avoiding large spikes later: Ng Chee Meng

stock changi airport
File photo of Singapore's Changi Airport.

SINGAPORE: Charging a levy for the development of Changi Airport Terminal 5 (T5) and Changi East projects before they are operational means passengers will avoid large spikes in fees later on, Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng said in Parliament on Wednesday (Mar 7).

He reiterated the reasons for the implementation of an Airport Development Levy (ADL) of S$10.80 on all travellers flying out of Changi Airport from Jul 1, announced last week (Feb 28) by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

Speaking at MOT’s Committee of Supply debate, Mr Ng said that the Government is funding the majority of the project, or more than S$9 billion of the tens of billions required to build not just T5 but a third runway and systems that will help move passengers, baggage and airside vehicles.

“Given the importance of the air hub to Singapore, we need to strike the right balance, and keep charges for airlines and passengers at a level that will ensure that Changi remains competitive,” he said while emphasising the need to expand Changi Airport’s capacity to meet rising needs.

The “Changi Experience” is what distinguishes Changi from all other airports around the world, he said. Expanding airport capacity ahead of time thus maintains and enhances this experience.

“T5 will allow better integration of airport operations … It will benefit passengers like you and me by offering quicker access to boarding gates and convenient transfers. The ‘Changi Experience’ will be further enhanced and new standards for passenger experience will be set,” he said.

In 2018, traffic through Changi Airport is projected to grow between 3.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent. In the coming years, traffic growth is expected to be at 3 per cent to 4 per cent each year.

Changi East will allow the airport to serve up to an additional 50 million passengers per annum in its initial phase, a 60 per cent increase from Changi’s current capacity, and more than the combined capacities of Terminals 2 and 3, he added.

Responding to a query by Member of Parliament Zaqy Mohamad, Mr Ng said that the ministry did consider differentiating the ADL by distance travelled but decided against it.

“Passengers make use of the same facilities at the airport, regardless of where they are flying to, it is only fair that the charges that they pay are the same,” he said.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES IN AVIATION

Mr Ng also touched on new technologies that will be used in airport operations and the use of drones in many new areas.

CAAS will launch an Aviation Transformation Programme (ATP) to promote the use of new technologies like autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality to improve airport operations.

The ATP will focus on four areas: Strategic air traffic management; seamless ground operations; effective and efficient Security; and a premium travel experience.

As air traffic volumes grow, CAAS will leverage on technology to enhance air traffic management capabilities, he said. Under the Air Transport Industry Transformation Map, 4,700 jobs will be created by 2020.

The second key technological development in the air transport sector is that of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones, Mr Ng said.

"There is huge potential for UAS to spur new and innovative applications across industries," he said.

"This would further increase productivity and enhance service delivery. One such area is in logistics, where UAS can quickly deliver parcels by air to the consumer. In time to come, UAS can potentially even ferry people through the air, adding a new dimension to urban mobility."

However, Singapore will also address concerns about the security and safety of such systems.

"Given Singapore’s busy airspace and dense urban environment, we need to be extra careful that UAS do not pose risks to manned aircraft operations or public safety," he said.

Source: CNA/hm

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