Singapore plans fourth Changi terminal

9 Mar 2008 by Mark Caswell

Not content with its existing three terminals (the last one opened only two months ago), Changi airport will be adding a fourth.

In contrast to the UK, where any Heathrow expansion to keep up with rivals provokes a storm of protest, the Singaporeans take a more positive attitude. The government says it will continue to increase passenger capacity at award-winning Changi airport to remain competitive with the likes of Dubai, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

According to a report in the Straits Times, transport minister Lim Hwee Hua said the “master planning” for the new facility has already started. “We must expand our capacity and add the fourth terminal because our status as a global aviation hub is threatened by rivals,” she said.

In recent times, a lot of passengers flying between Europe and Asia/Australasia who might have changed planes in Singapore, have instead been wooed by the Gulf carriers to transit Abu Dhabi, Doha or Dubai.

Dubai is planning the world’s largest airport capable of handling 120 million passengers a year (almost twice as many as Heathrow) when it opens in 2012. By comparison, Changi currently handles 37 million passengers.

Meanwhile, Changi is under pressure from the growing volume of low-cost flights (with operators like Air Asia, Jetstar and Tiger Airways) being seen in the region, so it will expand its budget airline terminal too.

A spokesman for regional consultancy Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation says: “This has to happen, because Singapore Changi is facing competition from nearby airports like Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, which are providing simpler facilities and more of them for low-cost carriers.

“Last week, Kuala Lumpur announced it will be developing a massive low-cost airline terminal and once the authorities in Thailand accept the reopening of Don Muang (Bangkok’s former international airport) as a low-cost airport, then the pressure will build [on Singapore Changi].”

So Changi will expand its budget terminal to boost passenger capacity from the current 2.7 million, to 7 million, by the time the upgrade is complete in 2009.

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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