Singapore Changi International Airport is a major aviation hub in Asia. Singapore Changi International Airport is located in Changi, about 20 km (12 miles) east northeast of the centre of Singapore.
Operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), Singapore Changi International Airport is the home base of Singapore Airlines and served by 78 other airlines. Singapore Changi International Airport hosts roughly four thousand flights per week to 177 cities worldwide.
Singapore Changi International Airport employs over 13,000 people and accounts for over $4.5 billion in output. In addition to being an important passenger traffic hub, Singapore Changi International Airport is one of the busiest cargo airports in the world, handling 1,780,000 tons of cargo in 2004.
Singapore Changi International Airport is experiencing rapid growth. In 2005, the airport handled a record of 32.43 million passengers, a 7% increase over the previous year. This made it the 26th busiest airport in the world and the sixth busiest in Asia by passenger traffic.
Incentives like the Air Hub Development Fund, first introduced in 2003, have proven effective in attracting airlines here. A new S$300 million fund to strengthen Changi’s hub status will start in 2007 when the current S$210 million fund expires in 2006. Changi has also been courting low cost airlines with its $45 million Budget Terminal, which opened on March 26th, 2006.
The continued success and growth of Singapore-based Singapore Airlines, as well as Singapore Changi International Airport’s range of amenities which have led to it being consistently selected as one of the world’s best airports, have also contributed to the airport’s success.
Rapid growth in aviation transportation in the world was also felt in Singapore, where the Singapore International Airport at Paya Lebar, Singapore’s third civilian airport after Kallang Airport and Seletar Airport, was facing congestion problems. Opened in 1955, the airport had a single runway and a small passenger terminal building. Its inability to cope with rising traffic became critical by the 1970s when passenger numbers rose dramatically from 300,000 to 1,700,000 passengers annually by 1970, before leaping to 4 million annually in 1975.
The government had two options available: expand the existing airport or build a completely new airport at another location. Concerned that the existing airport was located in an area with potential for urban growth and was physically hemmed in on all sides, the government decided in 1975 to build a new airport at the eastern tip of the main island at Changi, where an airport could be expanded by reclaiming land. In addition, airplanes could fly over the sea, avoiding noise pollution issues within residential areas like those at Paya Lebar.
Land reclamation works involving the use of over 52,000,000 m³ of landfill and seafill began in Changi, even as the airport at Paya Lebar was still in the midst of expansion works. About 2 km² of swamp land were cleared and filled with 12,000,000 m³ of earth from nearby hills, while another 40,000,000 m³ of sand were used to fill up the seabed, creating half of the airport’s total land area.
Phase 1 of construction included work on the first passenger terminal building, the first runway, 45 aircraft parking bays and supporting facilities and structures, including a huge maintenance hangar, the first fire station, workshops and administrative offices, an airfreight complex, two cargo agents buildings, in-flight catering kitchens and an 80m high control tower.
Phase 1 opened for commercial operation on July 1, 1981and was officially opened with much fanfare on December 29, 1981. It ended its first year of operations with 12.1 million passengers, almost 200,000 tons of air freight handled, and 63,100 aircraft movements.
Phase 2 of construction commenced immediately after the completion of Phase 1 and included the completion of a second runway, 23 more aircraft parking bays, the second fire station and the third cargo agent building.
The air-conditioned low-cost terminal was opened in March 2006.
Opened on 23 March 2006, the Budget Terminal is a low-cost terminal to the south of Terminal 2 built to serve budget airlines. In a competition to decide an appropriate name for the new terminal, a teenager, Jonathan Sng had his suggestion of naming the terminal “Budget Terminal” selected as the winning entry. Although 44 entries out of over 12,000 had made the same suggestion, Sng’s entry was chosen due to his reason, which was that the new name was “short, easy to remember and representative of what the terminal is”.
Singapore Changi International Airport is a top airport in terms of customer service and security and has won a large number of awards and accolades as the best airport since its opening in 1981, from organizations such as International Air Transport Association and Business Traveler. It has also won numerous awards for its home based airline-Singapore Airlines as the best airline in the world and for customer service towards tourists in the airport. It was named the best airport of the world in year 2006 by Skytrax, defeating its all-time rival, Hong Kong International Airport. Singapore Changi Airport is also rated by Skytrax as the only 5 star airports in the world.
Singapore Changi International Airport currently has two parallel runways, 02L/20R and 02C/20C. 02L/20R was completed and opened in 1981 as part of the airport’s first phase. 02C/20C, built completely on reclaimed land, was opened together with phase 2.
A new parallel runway 02R/20L was built 1.8 km to the east of 02C/20C, currently used only for Republic of Singapore Air Force aircraft as part of Changi Airbase. The new runway is expected to be extended and eventually be turned into a third runway for the airport in its future expansion plans.
Costing some S$15 million, the gates or ‘fingers’ enable passengers to get on the upper cabin of the new 555-seater aircraft directly from the gate holdrooms. The holdrooms themselves have been enlarged and appointed to cater for the larger number of passengers flying the A380s.
Besides the 11 new gates at Terminal 1 and 2, there will eight more A380-capable gates at the new Terminal 3, ready in 2008. Singapore Airlines will be the launch customer for the giant aircraft. It has placed an order worth up to $8.6 billion for 19 planes, with an option for 6 more.
In all, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, which operates Changi Airport, is spending S$60 million in upgrading its terminal buildings and airport infrastructure ahead of the arrival of the first A380 in late 2006. At the terminal buildings, besides enlarged gate holdrooms and new fingers, the airport is also extending the baggage belt carousels at the A380 gates to 90 meters (from 70 meters currently).
The airport does not expect embarking and disembarking passengers and baggage from the A380 to take any more time than it does for the largest Boeing 747-400s, which carry just over 400 passengers.
Since the Budget Terminal serves budget airlines, it charges lower landing fees, handling fees, and airport tax as compared to the main terminal. As a trade off, it does not provide the frills that the main terminals provide, for example, a shuttle bus instead of a people-mover system connects the Budget Terminal to the main terminals, and no aerobridges are provided to connect the plane and terminal building i.e. passengers have to walk a short but unsheltered distance from the terminal building to the plane. However, essential services such as air-conditioning (a necessity in Singapore’s hot and humid climate), duty-free shops and F&B outlets etc. are provided. Currently, only Tiger Airways uses the budget terminal – other budget airlines may move over from the main terminals in future, except Jetstar Asia / Valuair (now merged) which will remain in Terminal 1 for connectivity with Qantas their main shareholder.
In addition to a wide array of duty free shops and eating outlets, Changi Airport has six open air garden areas. Changi Airport also has numerous business centers located throughout the airport. There are also internet faculties, prayer rooms, spas and a gym.
Singapore Changi International Airport has over 30,000 square meters of space spread between its two terminals for shopping and eating outlets. In terms of sales, it outstrips any other shopping mall in Singapore, including those in top tourist-spot Orchard Road.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore derives 60% of its total annual revenue (over $500 million in the year ended March 2005) from non-aeronautical sources, with 30% from commercial space rental and a percentage of sale receipts. Liquor and perfumes are particularly popular, accounting for over half of total retail sales, followed by watches and tobacco products.
Extensive upgrading work on existing retail areas and their expansion since 2004 has seen sales rising 13.3% in the first half of 2005 year-on-year over 2004, and as much as 67% compared to the same period in 2003, with brands such as Prada, Gucci, Bulgari and Hermes opening outlets during this period. The airport enjoys “one of the highest concession revenues per passenger in the world” compared to other major international airports according to Jeffrey Loke, CAAS’ assistant commercial director.
Since 2005, an upgrade in screening technology and rising security concerns led to all luggage-screening processes to be conducted behind closed-doors. Plans are also in place to install over 400 cameras around the airport to monitor passenger activity around the clock and to check on suspicious parcels and activity. Tenders to incorporate such a system was called in late September 2005 .
SkyTrain services are available at the SkyTrain stations located at the departure halls of both airport terminals. The system has been revamped with a new fleet of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Crystal Mover Cars incorporating the most advanced technological features and expanded to serve the new Terminal 3 due to open in 2008.
There is a free shuttle bus service that transports people between Terminal 2 and the budget terminal.
Changi Airport MRT Station provides a connecting train service to the city.
Singapore Changi International Airport is connected to the Mass Rapid Transit network, with a station located underground between Terminal 2 & the future Terminal 3.