Singapore to unveil sustainable air hub blueprint in early 2023: Iswaran

SINGAPORE’s aviation authority is developing a blueprint to guide its effort in developing a sustainable air hub, and this will be supported by a 20-member international advisory panel, Transport Minister S Iswaran said on Tuesday (Feb 15).

While the Republic has been involved in several initiatives towards sustainability of the global international aviation system, including in the area of sustainable aviation fuels, he said what is needed is an overarching framework for the long term.

“This blueprint will spell out our medium-term targets for 2030 and our long-term goals for 2050. It will also chart the pathways to achieve those targets,” Iswaran told reporters after a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the first day of the Singapore Airshow 2022.

Expected to be ready by early 2023, the blueprint will focus on the 3 key areas of airport, airline and air traffic management, according to a statement by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

Noting that global aviation contributed about 2 per cent of global emissions before Covid-19 brought air travel to a standstill, Iswaran said emissions are expected to rise once aviation resumes its pre-pandemic trajectory.

“Decarbonising aviation is a very important initiative and it has global significance, and Singapore as a major air hub will certainly do our part,” he said.

Asked about the investment needed to help Singapore achieve its sustainability targets, Iswaran said it is difficult to estimate given their complexity.

“If we are looking at just, say what we can do over the next 3-5 years, there’s a lot more clarity, but when we take a longer view, then there is a need for significant investment and innovation which may or may not result in commercialisable outcomes,” he said.

However, one important aspect of the development of the blueprint is on financing, he said.

“There’s a lot of effort around green financing, and we want to see how we can unlock some of that for the purposes of aviation and innovation in this space towards the end of sustainable global aviation,” he said.

To support the development of the blueprint, the CAAS has set up an international advisory panel, bringing together 20 industry leaders and experts to discuss how international aviation can be made more sustainable and how Singapore can contribute to this effort.

The panel, which held its inaugural meeting on Monday, is chaired by Chong Tow Chong, president of the Singapore University of Technology and Design. It includes representatives from international organisations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as well as industry partners like plane makers Airbus and Boeing.

Asked if the commercial considerations of some of its members may weigh on Singapore’s sustainability goals, Iswaran said this is exactly why the private sector is brought in to share their perspective.

“We need that commercial angle to ensure the viability of many of the ideas, especially those that we are looking at in the near term. But at the same time… when we talk about sustainability, it will entail trade-offs and costs, and this is where I think at the national level, we also need to have a strong commitment,” he said, citing the Singapore Green Plan 2030.

Last year, the Singapore Airlines Group announced its commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Separately, the Changi Airport Group also said it has committed to a target of zero carbon growth until 2030 and a net zero growth by 2050.