Singapore’s Changi Airport, a traditional stopover for New Zealanders but facing increased pressure from other airports in the Middle East, is expanding rapidly.
The airport, the fifth-busiest in the world by international traffic, is building a fourth terminal as well as a big dome-shaped retail and leisure complex, called Project Jewel, and also has plans for a third runway in 2020. A fifth terminal – effectively another airport – is planned for the next decade and will be able to handle 50 million passengers a year.
About 53 million international passengers pass through Changi Airport now, 13 million fewer than pass through the fast-growing Dubai airport. Qatar has just opened its new $17 billion airport.
Qantas has shifted its hub for Europe-bound flights from Singapore to Dubai after forging a partnership with Emirates.
Changi’s senior vice-president of corporate and marketing communications, Ivan Tan, said his airport was used to competition.
“[Middle East airports] are growing, we’re cognisant of that but even before Dubai there was competition – Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Bangkok have always been very strong hubs as well with very strong name recognition of their home carriers.”
He said Singapore was helped by its location.
“Geography plays a part – there’s competition from the Middle East to fly to Europe but when you talk about flying to China it doesn’t make sense to fly to the Middle East,” said Tan on a visit to Auckland last week.
“The growth potential in Pacific and Asia air travel is far and away the leading segment so we are optimistic on that front.”
He said more New Zealanders were expected to use Changi if the proposed alliance between Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines was approved. In the year to February, almost 122,000 passengers from New Zealand arrived in Singapore, nearly all in transit.
While it was “unfortunate” Jetstar was ending its three-times-a-week Auckland-Singapore service next month, the proposed deal between Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand promised a boost in the airlines’ capacity of 30 per cent.
Air New Zealand will fly its own planes to Singapore after an eight-year break and Singapore Airlines is putting an Airbus A380 on the route.
“We see a lot of potential for increased traffic from New Zealand to Singapore,” Tan said.
Singapore was connected to 31 cities with non-stop flights and its tourist authority was pushing into India, a target market for this country too.
“There’s a lot of push from the Singapore Tourism Board to attract Indians and because of our hub status it makes a lot of sense for them to travel on to New Zealand. That’s part of the marketing that we do with Singapore Airlines,” Tan said.
Because about 30 per cent of Changi’s passengers were in transit, the airport provided a wide range of services and shopping to keep them busy, and spending. About half of Changi’s revenue comes from non-aeronautical sources.
The new Project Jewel in a domed structure will offer aviation and travel-related facilities, a wide range of shops, as well as leisure attractions.
Project to make Changi Airport a jewel