Changi Airport confirms new Terminal 4 facilities

Changi Airport T4 building rendering - Credit: Changi Airport Group

Changi Airport has awarded all concession contracts for its new Terminal 4 (T4) building, confirming the retail, food and beverage, and service outlets that will make up the new terminal’s offerings.

Construction of the new terminal completed in December last year, with interior work now currently underway. T4 is set to fully open in the second-half of this year.

Among the most notable features will be an integrated duty-free zone in the transit area just after centralised immigration and security screening. The area will incorporate both of Changi’s duty-free categories – liquor and tobacco, and cosmetics and perfumes – in a single space.

Located just beyond the duty-free zone will be a selection of retail outlets with 11-metre-high facades. This retail cluster will include brands such as Coach, Furla, Michael Kors, and Gassan Watches. Meanwhile a separate local Peranakan-inspired heritage zone will offer traditional brands such as Bee Cheng Hiang, Bengawan Solo and Eu Yan Sang. British bookstore WHSmith will also be opening its first store in Singapore at the T4 transit area.

On the food and beverage front, bar food and light snacks can be had at Tiger’s Den in the transit area, while dim sum is available at Treasures (Yi Dian Xin) by Imperial Treasure. The public area, meanwhile, will have a further 11 outlets, with Andes at Astons, London Fat Duck, Old Street Bak Kut Teh and Sushi Goshin by Akashi all new additions at Changi Airport. Also making its debut at the airport is Food Emporium by NTUC Foodfare, which will provide a food-court style offering with traditional Singaporean cuisine.

“T4 marks an exciting phase of growth for Changi Airport; and we are using the opportunity to celebrate the idea of shopping as a fun and interactive experience for our passengers,” said Lim Peck Hoon, executive vice president of commercial at Changi Airport Group. “From the impressive double-volume façade shops to a heritage-themed zone, passengers will be able to indulge in a wide variety of fashionable shopping and interesting dining options.”

Changi Airport’s T4 building will include more than 80 outlets covering over 16,000 sqm when it opens this year.

The busiest airports in Asia

Incheon International Airport retail

Industry group Airports Council International (ACI) unveiled the preliminary results of its 2016 world airport traffic rankings last month. And while Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) in the US retained its top spot as the world’s busiest airport, much of the growth over the past year has been taking place in Asia-Pacific.

Hub airports serving trans-Pacific and East Asian routes were among those that saw some of the most significant gains, such as Seoul Airport, which posted a double-digit year-on-year increase in passenger traffic. Meanwhile Asian airlines making notable inroads into the North American market – most notably from China – have played a major role in boosting traffic in their hub airports.

But which Asia-Pacific airports have made it into the top 20 of ACI’s rankings as the busiest airports for total passenger traffic?

Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)

ACI Ranking: 2
City: Beijing
Passenger traffic: 94.4 million
Percent change: +2.6%

New connections with North America (such as Hainan Airlines’ Beijing-Las Vegas service) may have helped boost Beijing Capital Airport’s figures somewhat, but the Chinese capital’s main airport is driven primarily by one thing – domestic travel. Despite taking the second spot overall and seeing almost double the year-on-year growth of Atlanta Airport, Beijing Capital doesn’t even appear in the top 20 for international passenger traffic (the number 20 spot on that list, Rome’s Fiumicino – Leonardo da Vinci Airport, has just over 29 million international passengers – less than a third of Beijing Capital’s overall passenger tally).

That said, traffic at Asia’s busiest airport is rising fast, such that an entirely new airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport, is currently under development and expected to open in 2019, bringing the city’s total number of airports to three.

Tokyo International (Haneda) Airport (HND)

ACI Ranking: 5
City: Tokyo
Passenger traffic: 79.7 million
Percent change: +5.5%

Another airport supported largely by domestic passenger traffic, Tokyo Haneda Airport has long served as the airport handling the majority of the Japanese capital’s domestic traffic, with Tokyo Narita handling most of the international. As with Beijing Capital Airport, Haneda doesn’t appear in ACI’s international passenger traffic top 20 list (Narita does, at number 18).

That said, developments such as a new dedicated international terminal and a fourth runway have expanded the airport’s operations, such that now a number of Tokyo’s key business routes are being shifted (or encouraged to by the Japanese government) to Haneda, while keeping Narita free for more leisure routes and budget airlines.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

ACI Ranking: 8
City: Hong Kong
Passenger traffic: 70.3 million
Percent change: 3.0%

Hong Kong International Airport hit a new annual record for its total passenger numbers in 2016, along with achieving daily records in flight movements (1,270) and cargo volume (16,700 tonnes – Hong Kong is still number one in the world for total air cargo traffic, according to ACI).

While Hong Kong’s airport does only come in third in Asia-Pacific for total passenger traffic, it’s the busiest in the region when it comes to international passengers (and third worldwide).

Pudong International Airport (PVG)

ACI Ranking: 9
City: Shanghai
Passenger traffic: 66.0 million
Percent change: 9.8%

The larger of Shanghai’s two aviation hubs (the other being Hongqiao International Airport), Pudong Airport is still a way’s away from hitting the figures of Beijing Capital, but it has enjoyed some of the highest growth among the airports in ACI’s preliminary rankings – and nearly double that of its Beijing counterpart.

Trailing Hong Kong’s total passenger traffic by a little over four million, Pudong is also closing in on becoming the second-busiest airport in all of Greater China. If growth at both airports remains at their 2016 levels, Pudong could overtake Hong Kong within the next year or two.

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN)

ACI Ranking: 15
City: Guangzhou
Passenger traffic: 59.7 million
Percent change: 8.2%

A dark horse on this list that likely wouldn’t be among most people’s estimations of the busiest airports in Asia – nor the world – Guangzhou Baiyun Airport is the predominant mainland Chinese airport for the south of the country.

Serving as a hub for both China Southern Airlines – touted as being the country’s largest – along with one of China’s fastest-growing carriers, Hainan Airlines, Guangzhou has also seen a number of new international routes crop up in recent months, notably China Southern’s new Mexico City route, now the longest in the carrier’s network. Meanwhile the deployment of A380s to Guangzhou by both Emirates and Qatar Airways last year undoubtedly helped increase traffic from the Middle East.

Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)

ACI Ranking: 17
City: Singapore
Passenger traffic: 58.7 million
Percent change: +5.9%

Along with Hong Kong International Airport, Singapore’s Changi Airport also saw it reach a new high in 2016, achieving a record number of passengers last year. The rise of China from fifth- to third-largest country market, along with growth from Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and Oceania, were cited as being the key drivers of the year’s 5.9 percent rise in passenger traffic.

With the airport set to open its new Terminal 4 building sometime in the second-half of 2017, and a Terminal 5 building and a three-runway system set to come in the late 2020s, Changi is optimistic about its continued growth.

Incheon International Airport (ICN)

ACI Ranking: 19
City: Seoul
Passenger traffic: 57.8 million
Percent change: +17.1%

Seoul Incheon Airport’s whopping 17.1 percent year-on-year growth is a massive feat, allowing it to leapfrog over Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport and break into the top 20 (it held the number 22 spot in 2015).

Add to this the fact that Incheon Airport is already operating some 3.7 million passengers above its current capacity and it’s little surprise that the airport is rapidly looking to complete its new Terminal 2 building, scheduled for the end of 2017. The new terminal will bring its operating capacity up to 72 million passengers, offering a temporary respite and easing pressure for the time being. But with 2017 expected to see some 62 million passengers pass through the airport, this new capacity also could be reached within a matter of years.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK)

ACI Ranking: 20
City: Bangkok
Passenger traffic: 55.9 million
Percent change: +5.7%

Only six airports maintained their spot in 2016 compared with the year prior, but for Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport it means it managed to keep its position within the top 20.

With a year-on-year growth rate of 5.7 percent, Suvarnabhumi Airport has been expanding at an impressive pace, while its international traffic – the vast majority of its traffic – came in at 45.3 million. This was enough to see it retain its position as the ninth-busiest airport in the world for international passenger traffic, and the fourth busiest in Asia after Hong Kong, Singapore and Incheon.

Five upcoming airport developments in Asia

Chengdu Tianfu International Airport

Changi International Airport, Singapore

Singapore’s Changi Airport hit an all-time high of 58.7 million passengers in 2016, so it’s little wonder the world’s sixth busiest airport (for international traffic) is looking to increase its capacity.

Construction on Changi International Airport’s new Terminal 4 building completed in December last year, with interior installations and operations preparations beginning shortly after. Construction began on the new two-storey building at the southern end of Changi Airport in early 2014, and when it opens in the second half of this year, the terminal is expected to be accompanied by two multi-storey car parks, a two-storey taxi holding area and three vehicular and pedestrian bridges with direct access to the passenger terminal.

Terminal 4 will also see the introduction of fast and seamless travel (FAST) initiatives to Changi Airport, including elf-service and automated options ranging from check-in and bag-drop facilities to immigration clearance and boarding.

Meanwhile earlier this month, Changi Airport Group launched a Master Architect tender for the development of a Terminal 5 building, part of a wider development plan to increase capacity at the airport to meet growing passenger and airfreight demand. The development includes the establishment of a three-runway system at Changi Airport, with the entire project scheduled to be completed in the late 2020s.

Incheon International Airport, South Korea

Opened in 2001 and serving as the main airport for South Korea’s capital Seoul, Incheon International Airport is already stretched thin. Last year, the airport handled 57.7 million passengers – 3.7 million more than the combined 54-million-passenger capacity of its Terminal 1 and Concourse.

With this figure expected to increase to 62 million this year, Incheon Airport is quickly looking to finish its new Terminal 2 building, which is expected to open towards the end of 2017. The new building will bring the airport’s total capacity up to 72 million passengers.

Along with the additional capacity, Terminal 2 will also see the addition of new advanced technology, with Incheon Airport looking to introduce artificial intelligence and robotics, along with virtual and augmented reality to its systems and facilities.

Outside of the airport itself, a new golf course and an “airport city” mixed-use development are both also planned to open adjacent to the airport in the near future.

Beijing Daxing International Airport, China

China’s aviation sector is growing fast and the Chinese government has already expressed its intention to capitalise on this growth with plans to develop an additional 20 airports across the country by 2020.

Costing approximately RMB80 billion (US$11.7 billion), Beijing’s third airport – Beijing Daxing International Airport – is arguably the most important. Much like Incheon Airport, Beijing’s existing major international airport (and second-largest airport in the world) Beijing Capital International Airport has already exceeded its capacity, handling a total of 90 million passengers in 2015 – seven million more than its 83 million-passenger capacity.

Expected to open in 2019, the new airport will be located closer to the city in Beijing’s southern Daxing district. Its initial 45 million capacity may seem small compared to its over-capacity counterpart, though this will be expanded to 72 million in 2025 before finally expanding to 100 million in the future – larger than any other airport in the world currently operating.

Key among the new airport’s design is efficiency, with its farthest gate positioned just eight minutes’ walk away. Meanwhile the four runways are being designed in a manner so as to minimise delays by reducing taxi durations.

Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Airport’s (HKIA) three-runway system had been under discussion for a long time, and is now set to come into effect around 2024. Meanwhile the upcoming Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge currently scheduled to open this year as well as the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok underwater tunnel due to open in 2018 are anticipated to significantly increase and improve access to the airport.

All these tie into HKIA’s plan to transform the airport into a major destination in its own right, most notably with the announcement of a new 668,000 sqm mega integrated development called Skycity near its Terminal 2 building. Phase 1 of the development will comprise the opening of a 1,000-room Regal hotel in 2020 (Regal Hotels Group’s second airport hotel in Hong Kong) and some 195,000 sqm of retail, dining and entertainment space.

Beyond the first phase, Skycity aims to offer attractions across five different areas: cybertainment, gourmet, edutainment, action and excitement, and events.

Chengdu Tianfu International Airport, China

Beijing isn’t the only major city in China getting a new airport. The new Chengdu Tianfu International Airport will be the Sichuan province capital’s second after Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, which currently has a maximum capacity of 50 million passengers.

The new RMB72 billion (US$10.5 billion) airport is set to have six runways and a capacity of 90 million when it begins operating in 2020. The airport is currently under construction in the city’s Yanghua district, about an hour’s drive from the city centre and also accessible from nearby Chongqing to the east once new road and rail link-ups are completed.

The airport is expected to become the city’s major international airport, with the existing Chengdu Shuangliu Airport likely to handle domestic flights.