CHANGI Airport's chic and ultra modern Terminal 3's (T3) opening today ensures that it stays ahead of the competition and Singapore's position as a key regional air hub is reinforced for many more years to come.
No effort and expense have been spared to ensure that Changi Airport remains the very best with the addition of T3, which was built at a whopping $1.75 billion.
The money spent on T3 is more than double the amount that was spent building Terminal 2 and more than three times that spent on Terminal 1.
T3 has been designed to handle 22 million passengers annually. And since T1 and T2 can take 21 million and 23 million passengers respectively every year, Changi Airport can now cater to nearly 70 million air travellers annually, a sharp 50 per cent increase in its annual handling capacity.
Changi Airport's expansion with T3 has been done with a view to capturing a bigger slice of the rising air traffic in the booming Asia-Pacific region, says Mr Lim Kim Choon, director-general and chief executive officer of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), which runs the airport.
"Competition between hubs is heating up," he notes.
Mr Lim says that air traffic in the Asia-Pacific region will grow close to double-digits, higher than the 5 to 7 per cent industry forecast.
Already, China and India's booming economies have led to double-digits growth in their air traffic and more and more of their citizens are travelling overseas. They will be followed soon by Vietnam as it prospers even more.
At home, new attractions like the Singapore Flyer and the F1 night racing this year and the upcoming integrated resorts will give tourism a huge boost. Singapore Tourism Board is targeting to generate 17 million visitors by 2015.
"T3 can be likened to the final major piece of the jigsaw puzzle which is Changi Airport's master plan mapped out in the 1970s. It brings the master plan to fruition and lifts Changi's total passenger handling capacity to 70 million passengers per annum," says Mr Lim.
He pays tributes to the late Sim Kee Boon, the former chairman of the CAAS, for his vision and leadership in helping to visualise the development of Changi Airport.
"Mr Sim understood what the passengers wanted and this was key to the planning and development of Changi to what it is today."
The design for T3 was guided by four principles:
- Clarity - movement through T3 will be simple and natural.
- Natural lighting - to create a warmly-lit, welcoming, open and spacious ambience.
- External views - passengers in the terminal can see and enjoy external landscapes.
- Maintainability - ease and cost efficiency in maintenance.
Mr Lim says that T3 has been designed for easy movement with an intuitive layout that allows easy navigation and minimum dependence on signage.
"For instance, there is only one centralised immigration check-point at the departure check-in hall. After you check-in, the only decision you have to make is to either turn left to the A gates or right to the B gates.
"It is a single street concept in the transit mall, allowing passengers to see through to the end of the terminal," the CAAS chief highlights.
The see-through concept works such that when a passenger alights from his car, taxi or coach, he can see all the way to the aircraft that he would be boarding.
Says Mr Lim: "T3 was designed with the passengers' experience in mind. The ultimate requirement was that the terminal must offer an enjoyable experience for the passenger.
"We wanted a terminal that is not just functional and aesthetically pleasing, but also one that is able to build an emotional bond with our passengers. We want passengers to associate T3 with fond memories."
T3's architectural design lets in natural light into the building while cutting out the tropical heat. Soft natural light permeates the building through the 919 skylights with specially designed reflector panels providing a soothing ambience at all times.
Changi Airport's newest terminal also boasts a retail concept that is unheard of in other airports around the world.
Over 100 retail shops, 40 food and beverage joints and 20 service outlets are housed along a single shopping street offering travellers the best of global and local fare.