Singapore, Oct 6 (PTI) Reviving travel through Singapore's Changi International Airport is the 'top national priority' for the government, a senior minister said on Tuesday as he explained the government's strategies for the aviation sector, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May, Singapore temporarily suspended the aviation operations at Changi Airport's Terminal 4 and Terminal 2 to contain the deadly disease in the country.
Changi Airport is Singapore's main civilian airport and is one of the largest transportation hubs in Asia. It has four terminals.
Giving a ministerial statement in Parliament on the government's strategies for the aviation sector, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said that reviving Changi Airport is a 'top national priority' but there is need to 'manage expectations'. 'I need to manage expectations here. For members who are hoping that I'm about to announce some air travel resumption and even possible December holiday destinations, I am sorry I will disappoint you,' he said.
'The key is to make sure we stay safe and manage the risks. We have gone through quite a bit, including a painful circuit breaker, to arrive at the stable situation we have today. And we must not give that up,' he said.
Singapore implemented the circuit breaker, that ended on June 1, with tough measures to control the spread of the disease by restricting the movement of people since April.
The country has re-established travel arrangements with Brunei, China, Japan, Malaysia, and South Korea. It has also lifted border restrictions for some travellers from Vietnam and Australia, excluding Victoria state.
'As an air hub, about a quarter of our passenger volume at Changi are transfers, meaning the passengers do not clear immigration and are using Changi Airport as an interchange to get to their final destinations,' he explained.
The airport now serves 1.5 per cent of its usual passenger traffic and 17 per cent of the total number of flights to 49 cities of the world. Its ranking fell to 58th busiest airport for passenger traffic from seven during the pandemic.
Ong said that Singapore is on track to increase COVID-19 testing capacity to 40,000 tests a day by November from the current about 27,000 people.
Meanwhile, Singapore reported 11 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, four of which were imported and two are from the community.
The rest five cases are from the dormitories for migrant workers here.
The imported cases have been placed on stay-home notice.
Till date, Singapore has reported 57,830 coronavirus infections.
Forty two cases are still in hospital, while 153 are isolated at community facilities with mild symptoms.
Twenty-two cases were discharged from hospital on Monday with total recoveries reaching 57,597. PTI GS RS AKJ RS