Building ahead of demand a key to Singapore’s success: Khaw

Romesh Navaratnarajah6 Aug 2018

Jewel Changi Airport

Artist’s impression of Jewel Changi Airport.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said building ahead of demand has been one of the factors for Singapore’s economic success, with the city-state applying this principle in aviation, industrial and maritime development, reported TODAYonline.

“For global business, if you don’t have the capacity to serve, you lose business to your competitors. It’s as simple as that,” he said at the official opening of Changi Airport Terminal 4 last Friday (3 Aug).

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However, he noted that building ahead of demand requires “sound judgment” and not simply “build and they will come”. The aviation industry, for instance, is subject to various disruptions such that following “straight line projections may end up in tears”.

“We must be sensitive to potential disruptions and be ready to make strategic changes promptly when warranted,” noted Khaw.

He cited Changi Airport Group (CAG) chairman Liew Mun Leong’s internal memo to his colleagues in 2017 following the soft opening of T4.

In the memo, Liew shared that when Changi Airport opened in July 1981, it was handling only about eight million passengers. Nonetheless, a masterplan was drafted for the airport to cater for the maximum demand of 30 million passengers per annum (mppa), despite receiving “severe scepticism from senior economists”.

“We were proven right,” wrote Liew in the memo, a copy of which was sent to Khaw. “Indeed Changi Airport hit that maximum plan of 30 mppa as early as 2004, much sooner than expected. And recently on 18 December 2017, Changi hit 60 mppa.”

To date, Khaw revealed that Terminal 2 is being expanded, while plans to build Terminal 5 are on-going.

He added that T5 is not just another terminal building but is set to become Singapore’s second airport.

“To manage the risk of disruptions, we are designing T5 in scalable modules and to build them in phases,” he said. “This is a practical approach to avoid over-investment and being caught wrong-footed, should our projections turn awry.”

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Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email


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