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Changi Airport to shut Terminal 2 from May 2020 to October 2021

Move will help to accelerate the upgrading works, will be completed by up to one year ahead of schedule

Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced yesterday (6 Apr 2020) in Parliament that Singapore Changi Airport will shutter Terminal 2 1 May 2020 onwards for 18 months.

The airport operator does not think that traffic will return to its former levels for the rest of this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as such, it only makes sense to do a full closure of the terminal to facilitate the previously announced upgrading works, which was slated for a 2024 completion.

Along with Terminal 2’s temporary closure, Changi Airport Group has also said that it may suspend Terminal 4’s if all the airlines operating out of the terminal suspend flights.

In view of the very small number of flights at Terminal 4 (T4), operations at the terminal have been scaled down considerably with a small number of aircraft boarding gates kept in use and shops allowed to close early after the last flight for the day. If the remaining airlines at T4 choose to suspend or adjust their flight schedule, CAG will also consider suspending operations at T4 temporarily but with the objective of restarting operations quickly when airlines confirm the resumption of flights.

Changi Airport media release dated 6 April 2020

Lowest traffic in a month since 2011

Passenger traffic numbers at Changi Airport has fallen off a cliff since beginning of the year. In February, Changi recorded only 3.45 million, a drop of over 30% as compared to the same month in 2019. This is also the lowest monthly passenger traffic number since February 2011, which saw 3.39 million passenger movements.

This number is expected to further dive in March and April, given that air traffic has almost come to a grinding halt given all the border control measures many countries have enacted, with a third of the world in isolation or quarantine.

According to some sources, aircraft movements for March have decreased by up to 90% at Changi Airport. What this means is that passenger traffic for March should have collapsed, given that none of the flights were anywhere close to full. We will only know later this month when Changi Airport Group reveals the numbers.

Singapore Airlines and Silkair to consolidate at Terminal 3 from 8 April

With the upcoming closure of Terminal 2, Singapore Airlines and Silkair announced that it will consolidate all its flights to Terminal 3 from 8 Apr 2020.

Both airlines will only operate slightly over 300 services in April, which Terminal 3 is more than equipped to manage.

With this move, Singapore Airlines has closed its Terminal 2 SilverKris lounge as well, leaving the Terminal 3 SilverKris business class lounge as the only SIA lounge opened worldwide for the time being. The other Singapore Airlines lounges in Terminal 3, including the Krisflyer Gold Lounge, the First Class Lounge and the Private Room, are also all temporarily closed.

Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge Terminal 3 is the only lounge operating in the SIA network right now

Move of other Terminal 2 airlines to be announced later

While Changi Airport has announced the closure of the terminal from 1 May, the move of other airlines will only be announced later.

As Scoot has moved to Terminal 1 since late 2019, we suspect that most of the airlines will be moved to either Terminal 3 or 4, given that Terminal 1 airlines are also now ‘encroaching’ onto B gates in Terminal 3 and E gates in Terminal 2.

The following airlines are currently operating out of Terminal 2:

  • Air India (AI)
  • Air India Express (IX)
  • ANA (NH)
  • Ethiopian Airlines (ET)
  • Etihad Airways (EY)
  • Indigo (6E)
  • LOT Polish Airlines (LO)
  • Lufthansa (LH)
  • Malaysia Airlines (MH)
  • Royal Brunei Airlines (BI)
  • Sichuan Airlines (3U)
  • Swiss International Airlines (LX)
  • United Airlines (UA)

Most of these airlines have suspended services to Singapore for the time being, so moving them around will be relatively easier.

Update: Changi Airport has made a brief announcement on where these airlines will move to. The list has since been removed, so we are expecting more changes.

Terminal 2 upgrading to be accelerated

Changi Airport Group announced earlier that Terminal 2 is going to under major upgrading works, which started in Feb 2020.

The refurbishment works were originally going to take place while the terminal is still in operation, all the way through 2024. This was also the same process when Changi refreshed Terminal 1 years ago, in keeping the terminal operational while upgrading the building section by section.

With this closure, it is expected that the upgrading works will now be accelerated and completed up to a year earlier than the 2024 deadline.

The refreshed terminal will have more space and can accommodate up to 5 additional million passenger movements a year.

Artist’s impression of upgraded Terminal 2 at Changi Airport

Final thoughts

This is no doubt a darker period for the airport, who have seen many years of record passenger numbers for the better part of the past decade.

It will be without doubt that this year will see significantly smaller number, which may be a blessing in disguise for Changi Airport, given that the increasing number of passengers handled each year slowly inched towards the maximum capacity.

During peak seasons, many passengers would have noticed particularly crowded terminals and long queues at check-in and at immigration. This slowdown will perhaps help to moderate growth a bit until Terminal 5 is ready in 2030, although I personally think this may be delayed given the current outlook.

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