Why Changi Airport must think big

Why Changi Airport must think big

SINGAPORE - Changi Airport's mega vision for the future, including a jewel of a mall to connect five terminals, expresses well the "aerotropolis" concept of urban planning scholar John Kasarda who sees the airport as a destination in its own right.

He argues for future cities to be built around airports (given the pivotal role of air travel) rather than the reverse.

For Singapore, the two are intertwined as dictated by geography, size and destiny. So integral is this interdependence to the global city - the entire economy depends on connectivity to throb - that the Government has underscored the fact that it will do its utmost to protect Singapore's hub status.

This lends urgency to Changi's task of thinking big and planning well ahead. History bears testimony to this approach with over half of the airport's land area reclaimed from the sea.

Construction in 1975 had 558 buildings and 4,096 graves giving way and swamps being cleared to usher in an era of around-the-clock travel and freighting that global business networks demand.

Since then, the airport has expanded progressively and terminals have been upgraded to cater to growing volumes and higher expectations.

Even greater changes are required now as its status as a connector hub is threatened by long-range aircraft, wrenching competition and traffic growth trends.

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