SINGAPORE: At Changi Airport, the holiday season is in full swing. Passengers and non-travelling public flock to the airport’s retail and F&B outlets in large numbers, with its four terminals and a mall built in one of them. Visitors seem to pause long enough to take in the green aesthetic of the airport’s nature-themed Terminal 2. With T2, the airport’s operators sought to break the structural monotony that characterizes many large airports and create an emotional experience that complements the airport’s function. It prepares for passenger traffic in pre-epidemic conditions.
Kelvin Ng, Changi Airport’s vice president of corporate and marketing communications, said the design was designed to transform the passenger into a tourist. “The engineering and expansion work took three and a half years. Due to covid we pushed the update. We thought it was a good time to work because the terminals were closed,” he said.
Nature is a key design element of T2. The terminal has an extensive spread of hanging and towering green structures with more than 20,000 plants. Some of its most effective elements, such as walls and carpets, are themed around natural landscapes. A major new attraction at the terminal is a 14-metre high digital display of the waterfall splashing over the rocks called The Wonderfall.
The renovated terminal has added 15,500 square meters of airport space. Changi handles around 90 million passengers per annum (mppa). It operates over 6,400 weekly flights with over 100 airlines connecting Singapore to around 150 cities. Between July and September 2023, the airport recorded 15.3 million passenger movements, 89% of the number it recorded in the third quarter of 2019. „With a fifth terminal to be commissioned in the mid-2030s, the airport aims to increase its capacity to 140 Mpa,” Kelvin said.
Expanded terminal, improved facilities
The T2 expansion includes the creation of a central general-use fast and seamless travel (FAST) zone, which has almost doubled the number of automated check-in kiosks and bag drop machines. T2 has added automated immigration lanes and is the first Changi terminal to have automated special assistance lanes in arrivals and departures immigration areas for persons with disabilities and children. A fully automated initial baggage storage system with a capacity of handling up to 2,400 bags has been installed. After the expansion, T2 is set to increase its passenger handling capacity to 28 mppa.
New retail and food and beverage outlets have opened in public and transit areas. At the duty-free wines and spirits outlet in the transit area, drinks are served by a robot bartender named Tony. The Gourmet Garden is a dining area with views of the ghats, a variety of food stalls and a spread of Singaporean food and drinks.
Singapore reopened its borders after the pandemic in April 2022. Traffic jams since reopening have caught airport operators by surprise. T2 opened in phases from May 2022; It became fully operational with the opening of its northern wing in October 2023. The terminal has flights operated by 16 airlines connecting 40 cities.
India among the leading markets
When the airport resumed operations, Indians were among the first to board. India joins Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and Thailand on Changi’s list of top passenger markets. Seven airlines – Air India, Air India Express, Drucare, IndiGo, Scoot, Singapore Airlines and Vistara – operate 285 weekly services from the airport to 17 Indian cities; Pune and Bhubaneswar are the latest additions. The airport’s operators are in talks with Indian carriers to bring back connections to cities that were abandoned during the pandemic.
Passenger traffic to and from India exceeded 3.5 million between January and September 2023; This figure was around 4.8 million in 2019 (full year). The corresponding figures for Bangalore are 3.39 lakh and 5.67 lakh respectively.
Under the provisions of the Visa Free Transit Facility (VFTF), Indian nationals transiting to or from another country via Singapore are eligible for a 96-hour stay in Singapore. The VFTF facility for Indian citizens is limited to travelers with valid visas for eight countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK and USA.
(The reporter was in Singapore at the invitation of Changi Airport)
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