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Changi Airport to impose security levy


Copyright 2002 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.
Article date: January 10, 2002

Passengers using Changi Airport will have to pay for the tighter security measures introduced after the terrorist attacks in the United States.

The levy may take the form of a separate "security charge" or a straight increase in airport tax. The current departure tax is $15. Measures, such as more stringent passenger and baggage checks, and new security systems, mean higher costs for the airport.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), which runs the airport, is bearing these extra costs for now, but is deciding how much to pass on to passengers and in what form.

"We want to be sure that we have them in order to remain one of the safest airports in the world," said Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong when he broke the news yesterday at the CAAS annual airport reception. He said the decision would be announced in the next few months.

"We have reviewed what other airports have done, and most of the airports have totally passed on the additional security costs to passengers. We will probably do the same thing," said the minister.

Starting Feb 1, US airports will impose a security charge of at least US$5 (S $9.25) or possibly as much as US$10 on passengers. It is believed Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport will also impose similar charges.

Said Mr Yeo: "I think it is correct that additional costs be passed on to passengers because it's in their interest for us to have a comprehensive security system."

The airport, he said, would continue to look at what equipment is needed and buy what is necessary to enhance security here.

Meanwhile, the aftermath of the Sept 11 attacks continues to dampen passenger and cargo traffic.

Half a million fewer passengers used Changi Airport last year than in 2000.

It handled 28.1 million passengers last year, down 1.8 per cent from the 28.6 million passengers a year earlier. Cargo traffic has been far harder hit. It fell by 10.7 per cent to 1.5 million tonnes, from 1.68 million tonnes in 2000.

This is the second time in 20 years that traffic has fallen. The last was in 1998, in the trough of the Asian economic crisis. Then, passenger traffic fell by 5.45 per cent and cargo traffic went down by 3.9 per cent.

Mr Yeo said that the $1.5-billion Terminal 3 project may be held back by six months to a year. Designed to handle 20 million passengers annually, it was meant to open in early 2006.

But the airport will go ahead and upgrade Terminal 2, starting in November.

The $200-million project will revamp the terminal's facade, expand the transit lounge to create more retail space and modify aircraft-parking gates to accommodate the larger aircraft that Singapore Airlines plans to buy.

The Changi MRT station is expected to start operating by the end of next month.

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