T4 building mostly done; 5 airlines set to move there

At least six airlines will move to Changi Airport's Terminal 4 when it opens in the second half of 2017.

Malaysian carrier AirAsia, along with its affiliates Indonesia AirAsia and Thai AirAsia, as well as Vietnam Airlines and Cathay Pacific will operate out of the new terminal, which is located at the site of the old Budget Terminal.

Changi Airport Group, which confirmed the move of these airlines yesterday, added that construction of the new $985 million facility was progressing well.

More than 70 per cent of the 195,000 sq m terminal building has been completed.

When T4 opens, travellers can look forward to fast, hassle-free travel with a slew of do-it-yourself initiatives, said the airport's executive vice-president (air hub and development) Yam Kum Weng at a media briefing yesterday.

Besides self-service check-in kiosks for printing of boarding passes and luggage tags, as well as automated immigration clearance, T4 will also feature facial recognition technology.

At the bag drop area and immigration, and before boarding the aircraft, the system will capture a photo of the traveller - verifying at each stage that it is the same person moving from one station to another.

This will eliminate the need for manual identity verification by staff so travellers can move quickly through the different processes, Mr Yam said.

For a start, CAG expects about three in 10 travellers to opt for the self-service options.

This means a traveller will have to deal with airport staff only once, when security officers check for liquids, gels and aerosols in their hand luggage.

The extensive use of automation and technology is a key attraction for AirAsia, said the group's chief executive officer Tony Fernandes at the briefing yesterday.

Not only will customers benefit but the airline also expects operating costs to be cut by as much as 40 per cent with less reliance on manpower, he added.

The design of the terminal, with easy turnaround for planes and short walking distances for travellers, is also impressive, he said.

"It is very different from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2. There, if you end up at the wrong gate, you feel that you are walking to Phuket!"

While lower departure taxes for passengers and a few other perks would have been nice, the total package offered by Changi was a "good deal", Mr Fernandes said, without elaborating.

With about two years to go before opening, more carriers are expected to move to T4, which will be able to handle up to 16 million passengers a year.

The migration will free up capacity at the other three terminals, which are already operating at more than 80 per cent of their designed total capacity of 66 million passengers a year, said Mr Yam.

At the briefing yesterday, Mr Fernandes also said, in response to queries from reporters, that its Indonesian operations are being sorted out.

AirAsia is one of 13 carriers that have been told by the Indonesian authorities to improve their finances or risk losing their flying permits.

"There are no financial difficulties in Indonesia... We have said it needs funding and we are going to clean it up," said Mr Fernandes.

This article was first published on July 10, 2015.
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