CAAS Rolls Out Initiatives to Strengthen Singapore Air Hub

Initiatives aim to boost airport productivity and provide additional cost relief to airlines operating at Changi Airport

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. These initiatives would contribute to the robust and sustainable development of Singapore -Heart of Aviation as an aviation hub of choice.

Boosting Airport Productivity

A key thrust is increasing productivity significantly 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 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. For funding of equipment employment, company-wide transformation of processes would be required. Companies may also receive funding for pilot trials of new equipment before they embark on organisation-wide implementation.

The above programme to accelerate the adoption of equipment to improve airport productivity follows the programme, launched last year, aimed at encouraging airlines to provide self-service check-in and bag-drop services for passengers departing Changi Airport.

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 initial two editions of the Aviation Challenge are aimed at enhancing productivity substantially at Changi Airport. 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 Boeing 737 and the Airbus 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. It currently takes eight workers to complete the loading of the baggage onto a narrow body aircraft, and eight workers to complete the unloading. CAAS has allocated S$10.5 million for this Challenge. The Call-for-Proposal for the development of working prototypes will be made today. Interested parties are invited to submit their proposals by 31 December 2014.

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. The Call-for-Proposal will be launched later this year.

Mr Alex Hungate, President and Chief Executive Officer of SATS Ltd, said, “The announcement of the Airport Productivity Package is timely as the aviation community continues to combat manpower shortage and rising manpower costs. At SATS, we recognise the need to transform our gateway services operations to improve productivity and reduce reliance on manpower. Technological change, together with the innovation and passion of our people, will continue to create new opportunities for SATS. As we invent new ways of working at Changi, CAAS’ funding, in particular its new programme which supports our investment in productivity enhancing equipment, will help us to accelerate our drive for greater efficiencies.”

Relieving Airline Cost Pressures

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% rebate in landing charges for airlines at Changi from 1 September 2014 to 31 March 2016.

Strengthening Collaboration to Drive Manpower Development Efforts

A passionate, quality and well-trained workforce is a key factor in making Singapore an aviation hub of choice. CAAS today signed an Aviation and Aerospace Manpower Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), and Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) strengthening the collaboration among the signatory agencies to enhance aviation manpower development efforts from attracting, developing to retaining human resource and talent, as well as to enhance aviation jobs and careers. Through this collaboration, a ‘one-stop shop’ will also be provided to aviation stakeholders for addressing manpower development challenges facing their organisation.

Mr Mark Edwards, CEO of Dnata said, “This multi-agency collaboration will help to ease confusion as we now have a single point of contact who can look into the manpower challenges that we are facing. Dnata is glad to have worked with CAAS and its partners on a pilot job redesign programme targeting supervisory jobs to attract talents into the sector. This programme will have a positive effect in the long run.”

Annex A : Fact Sheet on Airport Productivity Package

About the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS)
The mission of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is to "Grow a safe, vibrant air hub and civil aviation system, making a key contribution to Singapore's success". CAAS' roles are to oversee and promote safety in the aviation industry, develop the air hub and aviation industry, provide air navigation services, develop Singapore as a centre for aviation knowledge and training, and contribute to the development of international aviation.

For more information, please contact:

Satwinder Kaur (Ms)
Assistant Director (Corporate Communications)
Tel: (65) 6541 2912

Genevieve Yeow (Ms)
Assistant Manager (Corporate Communications)
Tel: (65) 6541 2082

Last Updated on 21 May 2020