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Singapore’s Changi Airport warns of delays due to system issues

Passengers line-up at automated immigration control gates at Changi airport's Terminal 4 in Singapore April 30, 2018. Picture taken April 30, 2018.
Passengers line-up at automated immigration control gates at Changi airport's Terminal 4 in Singapore April 30, 2018. Picture taken April 30, 2018. (REUTERS/Thomas White) (Thomas White / reuters)

By Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) — Issues with Singapore’s immigration systems are causing delays at Changi airport and land crossings just before the start of the weekend, with travelers being told to delay non-essential travel.

Off-duty immigration officers are being called in to manually process departing passengers at Changi with all the automated lanes affected, the border authority said. So far there haven’t been any flight cancellations, according to data from Flightradar24.com.

Rated the world’s top airport for the 12th time by Skytrax earlier this month, Changi handled 68.3 million passengers in 2019, before the Covid pandemic decimated the global travel industry. Known for its indoor waterfall, butterfly garden and plethora of shopping outlets, Changi has also embraced automation to handle the large volume of passengers passing through the Southeast Asian hub.

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“An immigration system disruption has affected the auto-lanes for departing and arriving passengers across the terminals,” Changi Airport officials said in a tweet, and advised fliers to arrive earlier for their flights. “Passengers should expect delays and approach our ground staff if assistance is needed.”

A representative for Singapore Airlines said flights are currently operating as scheduled.

Live images from a government website showed dozens of cars lined up on Singapore’s Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints on its land border with Malaysia, although that’s not unusual.

The system slowness added to wait times at the land checkpoints which can see as many as 400,000 commuters each day to get to work as well as deliver produce across the Singapore-Malaysia causeway. Traffic tends to be heavier on Fridays as workers return home for the weekend.

At Changi, arriving flights were delayed by an average of 8 minutes impacting 31 flights, while departures were affected by an average of 31 minutes on 210 services, data from Flightradar24.com showed.

The immigration and checkpoint authority advised people to delay non-essential travel.

Changi doubled down on introducing contactless technology during the pandemic in a bid to smooth transit through the airport once travelers returned en-masse. Self check-in kiosks and baggage drops operate when a person hovers their finger over a screen.

Passengers use automated immigration gates that scan faces and irises if those biometrics are registered in a passport.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.