Work starts on Changi Airport's T4 which is slated to open in 2017

SINGAPORE - The new facility, which is being built where the Budget Terminal was, will be able to handle up to 16 million passengers a year.

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Here is the full speech by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Minister for Transport, at the groundbreaking ceremony for Changi Airport Terminal 4:

Mr Liew Mun Leong, Chairman, Changi Airport Group

Mr Lee Seow Hiang, CEO

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to join you today for the Groundbreaking Ceremony for Terminal 4. T4, together with Project Jewel, the addition of a third runway and a mega-terminal, T5 by mid-2020s are four major and ambitious projects that will strengthen Changi's position as a leading air hub in Asia.

Meeting future demand

Air travel in the Asia Pacific is growing strongly. Airports Council International (ACI) estimates that passenger traffic in the region will more than triple from 1.6 billion passengers in 2011 to 5 billion in 2031, making it the world's largest aviation market.

Driven by the booming travel markets of China and India and by increasing economic links amongst Asian countries, ACI also predicts that the majority of international traffic in the Asia Pacific will be intra-regional. For Changi, passenger traffic is forecast to grow by around 5 per cent annually for the rest of the decade.

In the first nine months of this year, the growth in passenger traffic at Changi was already 5.6 per cent.

Against the backdrop of this strong growth in Asia Pacific air travel, regional airports are gearing up their capacity. Kuala Lumpur International Airport plans to increase its total capacity to 100 million passengers per annum by 2020, while Hong Kong International Airport is aiming for 97 million by 2030.

South Korea's Incheon Airport and Jakarta also have ambitious plans to raise airport capacity.

Likewise, Changi Airport must build additional capacity to meet growing demand. Airports require sufficient capacity to attract new airlines, add new city-links and increase frequencies.

Without this, airlines would turn to other airports that can better facilitate their growth, and Changi would risk losing connectivity and consequently, its mantle of being Asia's premier hub.

This is why it is important for us to continue to expand and enhance Changi Airport's infrastructure and facilities ahead of time, such as through the construction of T4.

The new terminal will be designed to enable efficient passenger processing and quick turnaround of aircraft. On completion, it will be able to handle 16 million passengers per annum, increasing our overall airport capacity by about one-quarter.

Terminal 4 - A test-bed for new concepts

T4 must maintain the premium passenger experience for which Changi is reputed. It is also our springboard to the future.

The design, layout and processes of T4 must be geared to overcome several challenges.

The first critical challenge that T4 must address in its design is integration with the rest of Changi Airport, especially for transferring passengers flying in and out of T4. They must find it a seamless experience to get to and from the other terminals.

I understand that convenient, comfortable and commuter-friendly shuttle buses will be provided at both landside and airside, to connect T4.

Besides enhancing the physical connectively, Changi Airport must also design the T4 transfer processes and services to enable passengers to connect with flights at the other terminals efficiently and without hassle.

The second challenge is to use T4 as test-bed for new concepts that we want to deploy in T5, to raise productivity levels and economise space. This will be done through innovative terminal design and the use of technology.

The most significant enhancement to both productivity and the passenger experience at T4 will be the introduction of more self-service options, from self-service check-in to automated immigration clearance and automated boarding at the departure gates.

We should envisage a large number of passengers being able to get easily and efficiently from check-in to the airplane without having to queue for service or checks by service personnel, but always having someone readily at hand to assist if necessary.

I am happy to note that the various government agencies, Changi Airport Group (CAG) and other airport stakeholders have been working in close partnership on this new paradigm of self service and automation.

This will help maintain the high level of passenger satisfaction while increasing productivity, even as passenger flows at Changi continue to grow.

The third challenge is to overcome the constraints of space. The physical land space is limited and locked in by existing roadway and apron boundaries.

To maximise the limited land parcel, I am told that the layout of functional spaces in the terminal has been carefully planned in order to minimise dead spaces. The outcome is a double-storey, compact terminal design which also benefits passengers, since walking distances are relatively short.

Another feature of T4 is the centralisation of departure and arrival immigration, as well as pre-boarding security screening. With these centralised facilities, we will use the limited space more efficiently and fewer staff will be required.

These are just some of the areas in which Changi must rethink the travel experience.

I am confident that in the course of planning and developing T4, other innovative ideas will spawn. And I am equally confident that T4 will be host to success stories and best practices that will set new benchmarks in Singapore's aviation industry.

Conclusion

Changi Airport, which has won many top international accolades, has a special place in the hearts of Singaporeans. I have great faith that T4 will emerge as yet another outstanding terminal that Singaporeans will be proud of, and which will further enhance the Changi brand name.

I would like to congratulate Changi Airport Group on this very important milestone. I look forward to T4's completion in 2017 and wish the team every success!

Thank you.