Singapore rolls out slew of initiatives to boost Changi hub

Singapore will also be offering rebates on air navigation services translating to a 10 per cent rebate in landing charges for airlines at Changi from 1 September 2014 to 31 March 2016.

CAAS Changi Airport Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore Singapore

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is rolling out more initiatives to bolster and grow the Singapore air hub amidst an increasingly competitive environment and limited manpower resources.

A key thrust is focused on increasing productivity at Changi Airport. To drive transformative productivity improvements across various facets of Changi Airport’s operations, CAAS is launching an Airport Productivity Package, with S$100 million (US$80 million) up to 31 March 2018. Two new programmes will be rolled out under this package. 

In the first programme, S$20 million has been set aside to encourage airport stakeholders, such as ground handlers, line maintenance companies and airlines, to adopt off-the-shelf equipment to improve the efficiency of their operational processes and reduce reliance on manpower. 

The programme will cover equipment using technologies under three categories for a start: ‘Track and Trace’ technologies that provide ground handlers better visibility of the equipment they deploy on the ground; ‘Labour Saving’ technologies, such as equipment requiring fewer workers for aircraft pushback; and ‘Mobile Workplace’ technologies, such as mobile applications and devices that enable more efficient deployment of manpower. 

The second programme rolled out, Aviation Challenge, is a competition-based programme that seeks to tap the intellectual capacities of the industry, academia and others to develop innovative solutions for the strong and sustainable development of Singapore Aviation. 

The first Aviation Challenge aims to automate the baggage loading and unloading process for narrow body aircraft with minimal human intervention and oversight. Narrow body aircraft, such as the B737 and the A320, account for more than half of all aircraft movements at Changi Airport. For these aircraft types, the baggage loading and unloading process is a highly labour-intensive process. CAAS has allocated S$10.5 million for this Challenge. 

Another S$6.3 million has been allocated for the second Aviation Challenge, which will be on automating the manpower-intensive process of consolidating cargo into larger pallets and containers for transport in aircraft and the reverse process of taking apart cargo from these pallets and containers at Changi Airport. 

These are key daily functions in the cargo handling process undertaken by all freight forwarders and ground handlers, and it currently takes about three to five cargo handlers between 30 to 45 minutes for each function. By automating the functions, there will be significant efficiency improvement in the cargo handling process and thereby an increase in the capacity to handle the cargo traffic. 

A Call-for-Proposal for the first challenge has been issued already, while the cargo process Call-for-Proposal will be launched later this year.

The thrust of the other initiative is to help the airlines operating at Changi Airport to manage their costs in the current period of slowing traffic growth. CAAS will be absorbing S$50 million of the air navigation services charges charged to Changi Airport Group (CAG) over this and the next financial year (FY2014/15 and FY2015/16). CAG has committed to passing on the savings to the airlines operating at Changi Airport. This will translate to a 10 per cent rebate in landing charges for airlines at Changi from 1 September 2014 to 31 March 2016.