Saturday, 13 April 2019

Jewel Changi Airport: Official Opening on 18 October 2019

$1.7 billion Jewel opens doors to give Changi Airport added sparkle
Complex an investment in airport's future; 500,000 to get a preview over six days from April 11 to 16
By Karamjit Kaur, Senior Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 12 Apr 2019

Jewel Changi Airport, the $1.7 billion investment to help secure Singapore's premier air-hub position, welcomed its first public visitors yesterday.

After the project was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech in 2013, it took four years to transform an open-air carpark into a 10-storey complex with shops, leisure attractions and facilities for travellers and visitors.

Over six days, from 1pm yesterday to 10pm on April 16, about 500,000 people who had signed up for free preview tickets are expected to visit.

When the 135,700 sq m Jewel, with more than 280 shops and restaurants, opens its doors to all from April 17, travellers will be able to access an early check-in lounge serving passengers of 26 airlines, including Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot. This covers 60 per cent of all departing flights.

Located next to Terminal 1, Jewel is connected to Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 via air-conditioned travelators, and there will also be facilities for all travellers to store their luggage round the clock.

Mr Shukor Yusof, aviation analyst at Endau Analytics, said: "Jewel is an extension of Changi's constant move to stay relevant and profitable. It is a new landmark for the best airport in the world."

About a third of Changi's 65.6 million passengers last year were on transit flights, and Jewel will offer them new opportunities to dine, shop and entertain themselves, apart from attracting local visitors.

With the demand for air travel in Asia expected to grow strongly in the coming decades and competition increasing among airports, Jewel is a key part of Changi's strategy to improve the airport experience and grow traffic, said Changi Airport Group's (CAG) managing director for airport operations management, Mr Jayson Goh. He told The Straits Times: "If you are flying through Asia and looking to make a stopover, you can choose from several airports. We want to make sure Changi Airport continues to provide the capacity, attractions and amenities to cater for this growth."

Hong Kong International Airport, for example, is developing a 25ha Skycity mega integrated development, set to be completed in the coming decade.

Jewel's highlights include a 40m-tall indoor waterfall and a five-storey garden with more than 2,000 trees and palms, and over 100,000 shrubs. Shops and outlets include famous New York burger chain Shake Shack and American fast-food chain A&W.

Jewel - a joint venture between CAG and CapitaLand - will also offer play attractions from June 10, including a 50m-long suspended bridge with a glass flooring that will allow visitors to look down at the greenery below, a 250m-long bouncing net, mazes and slides.

It will also host the first Pokemon Centre outside of Japan.

Those flying through Singapore will have to exit the transit area to visit Jewel and clear immigration again before their next flight.

Jewel will also house the first Yotelair in Asia, with 130 cabins that can be booked for short daytime layovers or overnight stays.

Mr Lee Chee Koon, president and group chief executive officer of CapitaLand, said: "The combined catchment of residents and Changi Airport's growing passenger traffic makes Jewel a compelling proposition to draw international brands to Singapore and empower home-grown retailers to connect with a global audience."

Jewel was designed by a consortium led by Safdie Architects, helmed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, who also came up with Marina Bay Sands.

F&B outlets, waterfall a big draw for visitors at Jewel Changi Airport
Around 60,000 people become the first to experience Jewel's many offerings
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 12 Apr 2019

At 40m, Jewel Changi Airport's indoor waterfall is the world's tallest. And it proved the popular choice for snaps and selfies as around 60,000 people became the first members of the public to experience the $1.7 billion, 10-storey complex.

About half a million people have signed up for free preview tickets to visit the 135,700 sq m complex, up to 10pm next Tuesday, before Jewel fully opens its doors next Wednesday, its official opening day.

Located next to Terminal 1, it is connected to Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 via air-conditioned travelators.

Actor J. Jaikishan, 26, was among those who visited yesterday.

"Jewel is a giant teaser for what Singapore has to offer to the world," he said. "An indoor garden, nightlife, food and water features can all be found here, right where many visitors to Singapore will be."

While Jewel boasts more than 280 shops and food and beverage outlets from Basement 2 to Level 5, for many, the main draw was the waterfall that occasionally emitted mist.

"Even looking at the waterfall can be soothing," said Mr S.P. Yong, 72, a retired Chinese language tutor who was at the fifth-storey garden with his wife.

McDonald's service crew member Doreen Yong, 56, and her daughter Vivien Neui, 22, were among the first group of visitors to the Pokemon Centre - the first one outside Japan.

"We were excited to visit it as both of us are Pokemon fans who play Pokemon Go," said Ms Neui, a Republic Polytechnic student who walked away with a Singapore-exclusive Pikachu plushie.

Food was also big on the visitors' list of things to do.

American chain A&W, the first fast-food outlet to open in Singapore in 1966 before it pulled out in 2003, attracted long queues on its return to the country. At 6pm, there were over 50 people in the queue at the 24-hour, 80-seat outlet at Basement 2. A staff member informed customers that the queueing time was about an hour, with about another hour's wait for food to be served.

Restaurant manager Melanie Aquino, 32, gave up as she felt the queue was too long. "It is a pity as the last time I ate at an A&W in Singapore was more than 10 years ago," said Ms Aquino, who had taken half a day's leave to be there with five relatives.

Fans of Shake Shack have to wait longer, however, as it will open to the public only next Wednesday.

The New York burger chain, which will offer exclusive local items such as vanilla frozen custard ice cream blended with pandan and coconut and topped with gula melaka crumble, was open only to the media yesterday.

Three teams from a lion dance troupe were seen performing outside different shops to usher in good luck and prosperity.

Play attractions on the fifth storey were not open, but visitors could stroll through the garden.

Hobbyist photographer Goe Meng Hui, 25, was there to capture a good shot of the indoor waterfall. "This reminds me of the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay but yet is unique in its own way," said the undergraduate.

More than 2,000 trees and palms, plus 100,000 shrubs at Jewel Changi Airport
By Karamjit Kaur, Senior Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 12 Apr 2019

It took almost three years getting more than 2,000 trees and palms, and over 100,000 shrubs, into Jewel Changi Airport.

The plants span about 120 species and come from countries including Australia, China, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand and the United States.

Mr Jeremy Yeo, head of user experience at Jewel Changi Airport, said: "When we were choosing the plants... we had to consider different criteria, including aesthetics and their ability to thrive within the complex given its light levels, temperature and humidity conditions.

"Before they were transported to Singapore, many of the trees had to be pruned to fit into containers for sea freight."

Once they arrived in Singapore, the plants were nursed back to health at an off-site nursery and acclimatised to Singapore's tropical weather.

Mr Yeo said: "The procurement of the trees took approximately nine months, and another two years were given for the trees to be nursed locally. This process was critical in ensuring that the plants flourish in the climate within Jewel's indoor environment."

From the beginning, the aim was to mirror Singapore's reputation as a City in a Garden, he said.

"As such, the gardens in Jewel are key features in positioning the development as a strong tourism product and a one-of-its-kind, multi-dimensional destination that will enhance Changi Airport's reputation."

Those entering the complex from the main drop-off point and the linkages from Terminals 1, 2 and 3 will be greeted with themed gateway gardens.

A five-storey forest valley will allow visitors to shop and dine amid an indoor forest.

There are two cobblestone walking trails, each about 160m long, with cascading waterfalls and mist clouds along the way.

One of the two main gardens in the complex is Canopy Park. Located at Jewel's top-most level, the park features themed gardens, such as topiary and petal gardens, and dining outlets.

Jewel Changi Airport set to be icon for Singapore, says architect Moshe Safdie
Moshe Safdie was inspired by 2009 film Avatar, and aimed for attraction that would appeal to all
By Melissa Heng, The Sunday Times, 14 Apr 2019

Multi-award-winning architect Moshe Safdie says he expects Jewel Changi Airport to become a powerful icon for Singapore.

Mr Safdie, 80, who also designed Marina Bay Sands, said he did not expect MBS to become a landmark symbol of Singapore, possibly exceeding the status of the Sydney Opera House.

"I do predict now, though, that Jewel will become an icon for Singapore no less than MBS," he told reporters on Friday, ahead of Jewel Changi Airport's official opening on Wednesday.

While many architects focus on the outward structure and form of a building, much of Jewel's beauty lies within the 135,700 sq m development. The centrepiece is a five-storey garden with a 40m-tall indoor waterfall and more than 2,000 trees and palms.

"That is the difference between the 10-minute 'wow' and the long-lived 'wow'," said the Canadian-Israeli.

When he first discussed with property developer CapitaLand about a thematic attraction to go with the retail space for Jewel, "the obvious ideas started flying around".

"Dinosaurs, an aquarium, some thematic kind of attraction. But we, as the architects in the room, resisted this notion of something limited," he said.

Mr Safdie, founder of Safdie Architects, said such attractions have a limited lifespan and would appeal only to a particular age range.

Instead, he aimed for an attraction that would appeal to every age and income group.

"That led me to think of some kind of great paradise and a mystical garden. Something that would be appropriate for an airport and that is a place of serenity and repose," he said.

He drew inspiration from the 2009 film Avatar, which had a landscape that he says blew his mind.

"At some point, we tried to get a hanging rock for the garden, to be placed in the middle of the dome, but it was too heavy," he added.

The shape of the building, he said, is like a doughnut, or in geometrical terms, a torus.

The unique shape means that rain that falls on the dome naturally collects towards the centre, thus forming the building's indoor waterfall.

The HSBC Rain Vortex, the world's tallest indoor waterfall, features water falling through the roof at a velocity of 10,000 gallons per minute. The water is then circulated through pipes concealed within the building. A water tank with a 500,000-litre capacity is stored at basement three of Jewel. Rainwater is also harvested for the landscape irrigation system.

While Mr Safdie had quite a free hand, he faced some challenges while designing Jewel.

One was the skytrain tracks that run through it.

"When we designed the torus, we wanted it to be symmetrical with the oculus (circular opening) in the middle. That would have meant that since the train runs in the centre line of the building - that every train coming through would get a train wash. I think that would have caused issues!"

So the oculus of the torus had to be moved off-centre, which was a "geometric nightmare". But he said the asymmetry makes the building more beautiful and "created a tension in the geometry".

Another challenge was height restrictions - the development had to be below the radar of Changi Airport's iconic control tower.

"That limited us to about 37m above street level. We could have used more height to get more curvature to the dome as it would have been more efficient."

But the biggest challenge was ensuring that the building was comfortable for both people and plants.

"We needed to get enough sunlight in for the plants but still keep the temperature at a comfortable 24 deg C for the people."

Besides air-conditioning, there are also chilled pipes in the floors and fogging devices near the top of the waterfall to cool the air. In an open space at Canopy Park, retractable shades mounted on the roof help to provide cover.

Asked what he thinks of comments that Jewel looks like MBS, Mr Safdie is unperturbed. "If Jewel looks like Marina Bay Sands, then I look like a horse. I can't see it. Yes, it has similar ingredients, it has shopping and gardens. But in essence they are totally different."

Jewel a timely investment in future of Singapore air hub
It will help Changi keep its edge as dogfight for premier status intensifies and air traffic grows
By Karamjit Kaur, Senior Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 12 Apr 2019

About one in three travellers who flies to Changi Airport is just passing through.

That is more than 20 million travellers a year, going by last year's total traffic, which hit 65.6 million.

Currently, those transit passengers with more than eight hours to kill before their next flight may decide to leave the airport and explore the city, confident that they can make it back in good time.

Travellers with about two or three hours in hand are likely to just hang around the terminal.

For everyone else in between, it can be quite painful waiting for five, six or seven hours to pass.

This is a key target group for Jewel Changi Airport, which welcomed its first public visitors yesterday and will open to all travellers next Wednesday.

Located where an open-air carpark used to be, it is directly connected to Terminal 1, and linked to Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 via air-conditioned travelators.

When it opens, travellers with long layovers can head to the 10-storey complex, which has more than 280 shops and restaurants, as well as an indoor waterfall and a five-storey garden with more than 2,000 trees and palms, and over 100,000 shrubs.

Jewel will also offer play attractions from June 10, such as a 50m-long suspended bridge with glass flooring, mazes and slides.

Travellers can opt for early check-in and wander around freely.

A total of 26 airlines including Singapore Airlines - representing 60 per cent of departing flights at Changi - will offer early check-in at Jewel. More airlines are expected to come on board in the coming weeks and months.

For travellers whose airlines do not offer early check-in, they can still drop their bags off at a designated area in Jewel.

Once they are done shopping, eating and relaxing, they can collect their bags and proceed to check in for their next flight.

Jewel, of course, hopes to entice not just transit passengers but all travellers flying from Changi - hoping that they will arrive a few hours before their flights to spend time and money there. The other big group is local residents.

At $1.7 billion, Changi's Jewel is not a cheap buy. It is, however, a necessary investment in the future of the Singapore air hub, and could well reap huge benefits for Changi Airport Group (CAG) and CapitaLand.

With travellers becoming more discerning and demanding, and the dogfight for premier air hub status intensifying, an airport has to be more than just a place for planes to land and take off.

The best airports in the world today are those that also provide great shopping, dining, and other facilities and services.

Hong Kong International Airport, for example, is developing the 25ha SkyCity mega integrated development, set to be completed in phases in the coming decade.

Beyond that, an airport is the first view of a country that visitors get, and is critical to a nation's brand.

The Singapore authorities have always been aware of this and, while others try to copy the formula, they seek to stay one step ahead of the competition.

CAG chief executive Lee Seow Hiang made the point when he said yesterday: "Located on the doorstep of the award-winning Changi Airport, Jewel will be a place where Singapore and the world meet."

The airport's investment in Jewel is timely, coming at a time when the demand for air travel, especially in the Asia-Pacific, is expected to grow strongly in the coming decades.

It is, however, not the only thing that Changi is doing.

Even as Jewel was being constructed, T1 received a makeover to improve its look and introduce improvements.

Check-in counters have been replaced, more self-service check-in kiosks have been installed and the baggage collection area has been expanded.

T2 is next, with upgrading works slated to start later this year.

When all the works are completed, Changi's total handling capacity will hit about 90 million travellers a year.

Beyond that, works have started at Changi East, which includes the construction of T5, a passenger terminal that will eventually be bigger than T1, T2 and T3 combined. T5 is expected to open around 2030.

If the proportion of transit travellers remains the same, then the number of those passing through Changi with time on their hands will grow exponentially. To this large group, Jewel beckons.

Jewel Changi Airport shines on first day of public opening
From 6am, it draws steady stream of locals, as well as arriving and departing travellers
By Jeanell Kiewand Christie Chiu, The Straits Times, 18 Apr 2019

He had a 10-hour wait before his next flight, but Mr Sammy Estaban was not complaining.

The 27-year-old Filipino, who works in South Korea, had in fact planned his trip back home to coincide with the opening of Jewel Changi Airport yesterday.

He said of the 10-storey complex that has more than 280 shops and eateries, as well as attractions that include a 40m-high indoor waterfall: "I don't think I need to go anywhere else for food and shopping."

Before the official opening yesterday, a six-day public preview which ended on Tuesday attracted about 500,000 Singapore residents who had signed up for free tickets.

From 6am yesterday, when Jewel opened its doors, it drew a steady stream of local visitors, as well as arriving and departing travellers.

By 10pm, foot traffic - each time a person enters and exits the building - had reached 256,000.

Despite some earlier concerns, traffic flow to the airport was not significantly affected by the opening of Jewel.


Several travellers told The Straits Times that the latest attraction makes an already good airport even better. It also makes Singapore a more attractive tourist destination.

Located where an open-air carpark used to be, Jewel is directly connected to Terminal 1, and linked to Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 via air-conditioned travelators.

Dr Thomas Diffy, 27, who was travelling from Britain to New Zealand, said: "It's a nice addition; makes the airport more interesting."

Colombian engineer Camilo Soto, 37, liked the idea of nature and a big mall coming together. "It's something you can't find in other parts of the world."

Inside Jewel, there are more than 2,000 trees and palms, and over 100,000 shrubs, sourced from countries such as Australia, China, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand and the United States.

To make it convenient for travellers, 26 airlines, including Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot, Qantas and Emirates - representing 60 per cent of departing flights at Changi - offer early check-in at Jewel.

More airlines are expected to come on board in the coming weeks and months. By 6.30pm, about 300 travellers had checked in for their flights at Jewel.

Those whose airlines do not offer early check-in at Jewel can still drop their bags off at a designated area in the complex. Once they are done shopping, eating and relaxing, they can collect their bags and proceed to check in for their flight.

Jewel, which took four years to develop at a cost of $1.7 billion, is a joint venture between Changi Airport Group and CapitaLand. The project was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech in 2013.

With the demand for air travel in Asia expected to grow strongly in the coming decades and competition increasing among airports, Jewel is a key part of Changi's strategy to improve the airport experience and grow traffic.

Those who turned up yesterday included Singapore residents who did not make it for the public preview.

Mr Foo Mao Sheng, 30, a museum curator who lives in Choa Chu Kang arrived at 9am to check out the Pokemon Centre. He said: "I will come back. The surroundings are very nice and the atmosphere relaxing."

Not everyone was impressed, though.

Recent business graduate Samir Chadha, 21, who was flying to Bangkok, described Jewel as "breathtaking" but added: "I don't know if I'd purposely come to Singapore just for this, though".

Singapore Institute of Management student Gabriel Teo, 25, said: "The indoor waterfall looks like a bigger version of Suntec City's Fountain of Wealth".

* Official Opening of Jewel Changi Airport on 18 October 2019

Jewel Changi Airport sees 50 million visitors since opening six months ago
Figure, which includes repeat visitors, passes initial target of 40m to 50m visitors a year
By Toh Ting Wei, The Straits Times, 19 Oct 2019

Changi Airport's latest attraction - Jewel - has attracted about 50 million visitors since it opened six months ago.

The figure, which includes repeat customers, has surpassed the initial target of drawing 40 million to 50 million visitors yearly.

Since opening in April, Jewel has drawn international acclaim and become an icon Singaporeans are proud of, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

"Jewel has become one of the instantly recognisable icons of Singapore," he said yesterday at a ceremony to officially open the 135,700 sq m complex.

"It resonates with Singaporeans because it reminds us that when we dream big and apply ourselves, nothing is impossible."

PM Lee recounted how the original plan was to replace the old open-air carpark in front of Terminal 1 that now houses Jewel and increase the number of parking spaces. But to realise the area's potential, the team conceptualising Jewel came up with a retail and entertainment concept that transformed the idea of what an airport could be, he said.

And while there were many doubts, Jewel was completed on time and within budget - a huge achievement considering the ambitious concept, he added.

He noted that world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, who designed Jewel and attended the ceremony yesterday, had rated the difficulty of constructing the complex's dome nine out of 10. Mr Safdie also designed Marina Bay Sands.

The entire project, which is a partnership venture between Changi Airport Group (CAG) and CapitaLand, cost $1.7 billion.

PM Lee first announced plans for Jewel at the 2013 National Day Rally.

Last evening, he said the 10-storey complex, which offers retail, dining and aviation facilities, has "undoubtedly" made Changi Airport more competitive.

Changi saw 65 million travellers last year, including those on transit.

PM Lee said he is confident that with Jewel, that record will be broken this year.

He also congratulated the CAG team, its partners, and every person "who helped conceive, cut and polish this beautiful gem at the centre of Changi Airport today".

"You have shown once again that what we say, we will do, we will deliver," he said.

In an interview with The Straits Times on Wednesday, Jewel chief executive Hung Jean said statistics for transit passengers since April are not yet available.

But anecdotal evidence has shown that Jewel has drawn more passengers, she said.

She added that Jewel currently sees up to 300,000 visitors a day.

Crowds vary at different time periods, she noted. "Definitely, the peak was in April, when it first opened, and then there will be peaks and less (busy periods).

The number of visitors also peaked during the June holidays, when the Canopy Park was opened, and during holidays such as the National Day long weekend, she said.

On upcoming plans, Ms Hung said Jewel visitors can look forward to its Christmas celebrations.

While she did not reveal specific details, she said: "It will be very special. It will be immersive.

"We want to create an ambience where you feel like you are in a wonderland."

New light and sound show set to JJ Lin's song at Jewel Changi Airport's indoor waterfall
By Toh Ting Wei, The Straits Times, 19 Oct 2019

Visitors to Jewel Changi Airport can enjoy a new light and sound show at the complex's indoor waterfall as well as a new song by local Mandopop star JJ Lin.

The new show at the 40m-high HSBC Rain Vortex highlights the movement of water and plays with an audience's perception of reality, Jewel said yesterday.

It made its debut around 7.30pm last night, and will play three times a night from today to Nov 14, at 7.30pm, 9.30pm and 11.30pm, and twice a night from Nov 15 to Jan 5, at 8.30pm and 10.30pm.

It is the third show at the waterfall and is set to a new song, As I Believe, composed and sung by Lin. The lyrics were penned by veteran songwriter Dick Lee and arranged by music director Goh Kheng Long.

Transit passengers with a minimum 51/2-hour layover and relevant visa approvals can also enjoy a new 21/2-hour-long walking tour to give "a taste of what Singapore has to offer".

These were among the announcements made by Jewel as it celebrated six months of operations yesterday.

The complex was officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a ceremony held beside the Rain Vortex.

Jewel said that it continues to get as many as 300,000 visitors a day.

Almost all of its 53,600 sq m of net lettable area has been leased, with 14 new stores - such as Burger & Lobster and Apple's second Singapore store - opening since April.

Jewel noted that 35 airlines, which serve close to 80 per cent of all departing passengers at Changi Airport, now offer early check-in at the complex.

"On average, 1,500 passengers now use the early check-in facilities daily, checking in close to 1,100 pieces of baggage," it added, noting that "two new check-in kiosks have been added this month".

Jewel chief executive Hung Jean told The Straits Times this week that the various "dimensions to the experience" can help to generate continued interest in the long run.

Beyond a variety of flagship and first-in-Singapore stores, Ms Hung said Jewel has other offerings, such as its 14,000 sq m Canopy Park, that can be packaged with retail promotions to draw more shoppers.

But while crowds continue to flock to Jewel, business has not been great for all tenants, with a few reporting significantly slower sales since the June holidays ended.

When asked about these concerns, Ms Hung said there are businesses, such as those that are first of their kind in Singapore, which continue to flourish, such as the Pokemon Centre.

"For those who think that they need help in terms of awareness and stuff, we have approached them as well ... We are open to working with them," she added. "This is our pioneer batch of tenants, and they will be forever the only pioneer batch who are doing this with us, so we really want to work closely with them for the long haul."

However, she also noted that the preference of visitors in terms of what they like to buy or eat will change over time.

Such evolving demands mean Jewel has to be on the continual lookout for opportunities to try to bring new brands in and refresh tenancies when needed, added Ms Hung.

Safety issues at the Canopy Park, where two park visitors suffered injuries in June, was another concern.

Ms Hung said: "I am happy to note that since then, the incidents have all tapered.

"I think it is also a continuous improvement process. So, where there are learning points we will try to tweak the operations from there."

She added that safety has also improved as rangers and visitors become more familiar with safe practices at the attraction.

Ultimately, Ms Hung said, Jewel represents a dream and vision come true for those involved in the project: "It has definitely changed the landscape of the aviation industry... We think by the global response, we have created something special."

Jewel Changi Airport marks six months of operations with a grand opening celebration -18 Oct 2019

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