WORLD ROUTES: Changi Airport's Positive Outlook

On the opening day of this year's World Routes in Las Vegas, The HUB's editor, Richard Maslen sat down with the team from Singapore's Changi Airport Group to learn more about plans to further develop one of Asia's most dynamic hub airports.

As Asia’s middle class continues to grow and the demand for air travel rises, Singapore’s Changi Airport Group (CAG) is ensuring that Singapore's Changi Airport (SIN) continues to be well-placed to cater to more passenger and aircraft movements. To meet this objective, CAG has launched several initiatives to boost Changi’s capacity and to strengthen its appeal as a major global aviation hub.

Consultants developing the original airport masterplan for Changi Airport in the mid-1970s had planned for a total capacity of just 30 million passengers per annum. However, the government ensured that land reclaimed at the eastern end of Singapore for the airport could support a much larger airport. Singapore has benefitted from this foresight. In 2004, Changi Airport handled 30 million passengers. It achieved its 40-million milestone in 2010 and reached 50 million passenger movements just two years later. Today, Changi Airport is the world’s sixth busiest airport for international traffic.

CAG’s core principle of strategic forward planning remains unchanged – ensuring supply in the form of ample capacity, as passenger and aircraft movements grow, while maintaining Changi Airport’s appeal as an aviation hub to both passengers and airlines.

As the airport manager and operator, CAG is working on a number of infrastructure projects including a brand new Terminal 4 and a mixed-use complex on the landside designed to be a signature lifestyle destination. As well, CAG is working with the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and other government agencies to develop a site east of the present Changi Airport (Changi East) that will house Terminal 5 and the airport’s third runway.

Enhanced Terminal 4

The closure of the old Budget Terminal in 2012 paved the way for a larger and enhanced Terminal 4 (T4) which will better meet rising user expectations and raise Changi Airport’s capacity in the near term. With a planned capacity of 16 million passenger movements a year come 2017, T4 will raise Changi Airport’s handling capacity to 82 million a year. The two-storey terminal with a height of 25 metres and a gross floor area of about 190,000 square metres is designed with the flexibility to meet the operational needs of both regional full service and low-cost carriers.

The concept of T4 – similar to Changi’s other terminals – will include a full palette of passenger-friendly facilities and attractive commercial offerings, ensuring that even while traffic grows, the passenger experience at Changi is not compromised.

T4 will also feature initiatives aimed at improving efficiency and manpower productivity. For instance, departure and arrival immigration control as well as pre-boarding security screening will be centralised. Furthermore, baggage sortation will be fully automated. Passengers will also see more kiosks for self check-in, self bag-tagging and self bag-drops. Greater use of such options will help airlines and ground handling agents reduce processing times and staffing requirement.

Raising Airfield Capacity

Concurrent with the development of T4, CAG has also started major airfield works to support the needs of airlines operating at Changi Airport. A 38-hectare land plot south of Terminal 3 is being converted into an aircraft parking area with 17 narrow-body and 9 wide-body remote aircraft parking stands. When completed in 2016, the total number of aircraft parking stands at Changi Airport will increase by 24 per cent to more than 180.

To increase the capacity of Changi’s two runways, CAG has also been working with CAAS to implement several enhancement measures, including the reduction of departure flight separation times, reconfiguring of flight routes and implementation of aircraft speed control for increased runway use efficiency.

CAG has also freed up runway capacity especially during peak periods by improving its runway inspection processes through the automation of checks for airfield lighting systems as well as investments in additional inspection resources. As a result, the time taken for runway inspections has been reduced by 45 per cent and response time for removing any foreign objects found on the airfield has been significantly improved.

Project Jewel & Terminal 1 Expansion

Another major infrastructure project is the redevelopment of the car park fronting Terminal 1 (T1). On this three-hectare site, CAG envisages an iconic mixed-use complex to enhance Changi’s offerings and strengthen its position as an international air hub.

Codenamed ‘Project Jewel’, the new complex aims to be a world-class, signature lifestyle destination that will strongly boost Singapore’s tourism appeal. In Las Vegas, attending World Routes, Mr Lee Seow Hiang, CAG’s chief executive officer, said: “We are very excited about this opportunity to create at Changi Airport an iconic global attraction that will capture the hearts of both tourists and Singaporeans. For tourists, we envisage Project Jewel to be a must-visit Singapore attraction, located strategically at the doorstep of one of the world’s busiest air hubs, and an extension of the Changi brand promise that many travellers worldwide have come to know us for.”

Designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, Project Jewel will showcase a stunning glass and steel façade that presents an impressive view of the complex – from both Airport Boulevard and the sky. A key feature of the complex being planned is a large scale, lush indoor garden, with a breathtaking waterfall.

To be seamlessly connected to Terminals 1, 2 and 3, Project Jewel will serve as a node linking the terminals, improving inter-terminal connectivity. With easy access to the departure gates, the complex will offer aviation and travel-related facilities, a wide range of retail offerings, as well as unique leisure attractions. There are also plans for the complex to provide new aviation facilities to support fly-cruise and fly-coach initiatives – important options to a rising number of inter-modal travelers.

Project Jewel will optimise the limited land resource in front of T1 such as a new multi-storey basement car park. As part of the redevelopment, T1’s public areas will also be expanded to allow more space for aviation facilities such as the arrival hall, baggage claim areas and taxi bays.

These enhancements will increase T1’s passenger handling capacity to 24 million passenger movements per annum. When completed, Project Jewel, together with T4, will boost Changi Airport’s handling capacity to 85 million passenger movements a year, to cater for Changi’s growth over the next 10 to 12 years.

Changi East

Looking beyond the immediate horizon, the master planning for Changi Airport’s next phase of growth has also begun. Dubbed “Changi East”, the development on a 1,080-hectare plot will see the expansion of Changi Airport to include its fifth terminal and the implementation of a three-runway system

Set to be one of the largest terminals in the world, Terminal 5, to be completed in the mid-2020s, will be capable of handling 50 million passengers per annum and will be linked to the other existing terminals at Changi Airport.

To allow for civil aviation use, the existing third runway in the area, currently used by the military, will be extended to handle larger commercial aircraft. An additional 40km of new taxiways will also be built to connect the runway with the current airport. The three-runway system will be in place around 2020.

While it is business as usual at Changi Airport, the on-going efforts to prepare for the future underscore CAG’s commitment to be ready for the opportunities that growing air travel in Asia Pacific will present over the coming decades.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…