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Singapore plans airport upgrade

The completion of Changi's Terminal 3 has been delayed again.
The completion of Changi's Terminal 3 has been delayed again.

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- Singapore plans to spend about S$250 million ($146.4 million) to upgrade one of its two airport terminals to defend its role as a key aviation center in the region, the Straits Times reported.

"The competition is going to get tougher, that's for sure, which is why we're putting in place all these plans or all these programmes to ensure that Changi is able to continue growing as an air hub," Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong said.

The newspaper quoted Yeo as saying the upgrade of Changi Airport Terminal 1 was likely to start in 2005 at the latest.

Singapore is currently upgrading its Changi Airport Terminal 2 for completion in 2005, also at a cost of S$250 million. The two terminals have a capacity for 44 million passengers a year.

The upgrades come as rival city Bangkok plans to open a new airport in 2005 with a capacity for 45 million passengers.

Singapore is also worried that Europeans heading for Australia could bypass the city state with new long-range aircraft like A340-500.

Defending its role as a key aviation center is crucial for Singapore as businesses such as air freight, airport terminal services, hotel and sightseeing generate revenue of S$8 billion, contributing some 5.5 percent to its gross domestic product in 1999, according to media reports.

State-owned Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), owner and manager of the two airports, said only that it was studying the upgrade of Terminal 1.

CAAS said the completion of Terminal 3, with a capacity for 20 million passengers a year, would be delayed to 2008 following a drop-off in traffic after the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in late March.

This is the second delay for the construction of Terminal 3 after the first delay to 2006/2007 from 2004.

SARS, which came under control in Singapore in May, killed 33 people in the city state in an outbreak that triggered a national crisis and seriously hurt its economy.

But passenger traffic had slowly recovered, with traffic rising 75 percent in the third quarter from the second quarter.

In the first 11 months of this year, CAAS said 22 million people passed through Changi airport, compared with some 29 million passengers in the full year of 2002.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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