Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Changi Airport's Terminal 4 opens 31 October 2017

Changi Airport's Terminal 4 opens for business; smooth operations for first arriving and departing flights
By Tan Tam Mei and Adrian Lim, Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 31 Oct 2017

Changi Airport's newest terminal - T4 - started its first day of operations early Tuesday (Oct 31) morning, marking a critical milestone in Singapore's aviation history.

Airport operations went off without a hitch, with passengers for the first flight out to Hong Kong streaming in as early as 4am to the departure hall to use the self-check-in facilities. Airport staff were on hand to guide them through the process.

The first arriving and departing flights at T4 were operated by Cathay Pacific - CX659 from Hong Kong arrived at 5.40am and CX650 departed Singapore for Hong Kong at 6.50am.

Nurse Minee Moh, 29, was at the airport around 5am to check in for her flight to Hong Kong for a five-day holiday.

"The check-in and baggage-drop experience was very good and very smooth. Other airports and T1 have the self-check-in system. It saves time, and I'm very honoured to be on the first flight out," she said.

Mr C.S. Tan, an IT professional in his 40s, and his family, who were heading to Hong Kong for a week-long holiday, were impressed by the airport facilities and self-check-in services.

"Everything is automated and very intuitive. We didn't know we were the first passengers, but it's nice," said Mr Tan.

His wife, Madam Angela Tan, also an IT professional in her 40s, said of the immigration clearance and security systems: "It's definitely higher security, but it wasn't a hassle. The full-body scanning machines are quite cool, like you're in a Mission Impossible movie."

Meanwhile, passengers arriving from Hong Kong on CX659 were greeted at the arrival gate by airport staff with orchids and goodie bags. At the baggage collection area, they were entertained by an instrumental quartet, and also treated to coffee and breakfast.

Passengers said the arrival hall was spacious, adding that the walk from the arrival gate to immigration was fuss-free, with clear signage.

Retiree Zhao Chuan Xin, 65, who is from Henan, China, said: “At other airport terminals, we have to walk around to find our way. But at T4, it’s a simple and direct walk from the airplane to arrivals. I’m very pleased.”

Cabin crew member Tan Yu Ling, 27, a Singaporean who was returning from a vacation in Hong Kong, said: “The new terminal feels very spacious. The automated immigration clearance system also looks very high-tech and futuristic.”

Mr Mohamad Hossenbux, 51, a managing director of an aerospace company, also said: “The ergonomics, in terms of the lighting and decor, is very subtle and pleasing.” Added Mr Hossenbux, who is from Canada: “After a long trip, it feels relaxing and peaceful."

Speaking to reporters soon after the first flight took off, managing director of airport operations management Jayson Goh said he was happy with the overall smooth operations and passengers' satisfaction with the new systems and amenities.

"(Besides the new automated system), engaging the passengers, creating new experiences and new options for them to have a memorable experience at Changi will remain a key area we focus on to strengthen the competitiveness of Changi Airport."

When asked about some feedback from passengers who faced difficulties with the automated bag-drop system, Mr Goh said in Mandarin: "For the new facilities, we will have staff to help teach the passengers how to use them. In the meantime, we will be sending more staff to each check-in counter; there are currently about six to eight staff at each counter."

T4 is the newest terminal for Changi in nearly 10 years after Terminal 3 was opened in 2008.

The new terminal features new technologies, systems and procedures, such as a facial recognition system that will capture a passenger's photo at different stations, centralised security screening, as well as start-to-end self-service options for check-in.

To ensure that the high-tech systems were up to speed to handle passengers, a total of 150 trials involving 10,000 volunteers and airport staff to test different systems and processes were carried out before the terminal's opening.

Cathay Pacific and Korean Air are the first airlines to operate out of T4. The remaining airlines, including Cebu Pacific, Spring Airlines, the AirAsia group and Vietnam Airlines, will progressively move from other terminals over a week.

With T4, Changi Airport will be able to handle up to 16 million passengers a year, increasing its overall annual capacity to 82 million passengers.

This will provide the necessary capacity until the next major injection comes in about 10 to 12 years through the opening of Terminal 5.

In the first half of this year, Changi handled 5.7 per cent more passengers at 30.4 million, boosted by growth to and from South-east Asia, North-east Asia and South Asia.

The airport will add a third runway around 2020, while T5 - due to open some time in the late 2020s - will enable the airport to handle another 50 million passengers.

* Changi Airport Terminal 4 official opening on 3 August 2018

Building ahead key to Changi's success: Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan
T5 being designed in scalable modules to adapt for future needs
By Karamjit Kaur, Senior Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 4 Aug 2018

Planning and building ahead of demand are important to ensure that Changi Airport keeps ahead of its rivals, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday at the official opening of the airport's Terminal 4 (T4).

Indeed, Singapore has applied this mantra not only in aviation, but also in maritime and industrial development, he said. However, this requires sound judgment, Mr Khaw added.

"It is not simply 'build and they will come'. The aviation industry is unpredictable, subject to many disruptions, including oil prices and, at times, unhelpful governmental interventions," he said.

"Adhering to straight-line projections may end up in tears. We must be sensitive to potential disruptions and be ready to make strategic changes promptly when warranted," Mr Khaw said.

This is why the future T5, a mega passenger terminal being built at Changi East - located about 1.6km away from the current airport premises - is being designed in scalable modules and will be built in phases, Mr Khaw said.

"This is a practical approach to avoid over-investment and being caught wrong-footed, should our projections turn awry," he added.

Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong told The Straits Times that on the flip side, if passenger traffic grows more strongly than expected and capacity is needed before T5's slated opening around 2030, it is always possible to bring forward the construction timeline by three to five years.

He said: "I am a construction man. If you want me to build earlier - you have the money, you have the demand - I will build it for you. The land is already there, 1,000ha."

Changi Airport, which handled 32.1 million passengers between January and June, is expected to become busier, with strong demand for air travel - especially in the Asia-Pacific region - expected to continue for the next few decades.

T4, which took about four years to build, is a vital part of Changi's plans to accommodate growth.

Since it started operations on Oct 31 last year, the terminal, which can cater for up to 16 million passengers a year, has handled about six million passengers.

Changi's four passenger terminals can now accommodate up to 82 million passengers a year.

In his speech at the official opening, Mr Khaw highlighted a memo that Mr Liew sent to his colleagues after T4's soft opening last year. In it, Mr Liew pointed out that planning ahead had always been part of the airport's modus operandi.

Mr Liew, who has been involved in the various stages of airport development since 1975, wrote: "When Changi Airport opened in July 1981, both Changi and Paya Lebar Airport together handled only about eight million passengers that year.

"Amid severe scepticism from senior economists, we masterplanned Changi's future capacity to cater for the maximum demand of 30 million passengers per annum (mppa). We were proven right. Indeed, Changi Airport hit that maximum plan of 30 mppa as early as 2004, much sooner than expected."

"An overcrowded airport cannot be an attractive air hub," he added.

Mr Khaw said: "If you don't have the capacity to serve, you lose business to your competitors. It is as simple as that."

Apart from providing much-needed capacity, T4 also functions as a test bed for technology that will be used in T5.

It is only in T4 that passengers can experience start-to-end automated do-it-yourself processes.

The terminal is the first at Changi Airport to use facial recognition to ensure that the same traveller moves from the first to the last step - for check-in, bag tagging, immigration clearance and boarding.

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