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New terminal to double Changi Airport’s capacity

SINGAPORE — A new terminal will be built at Changi by the mid-2020s to double the airport’s current capacity, allowing it to stay ahead of regional competition and create more opportunities for Singaporeans.

SINGAPORE — A new terminal will be built at Changi by the mid-2020s to double the airport’s current capacity, allowing it to stay ahead of regional competition and create more opportunities for Singaporeans.

Announcing this at the National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that Changi, which handled 51 million passengers last year, is approaching its limits as an air travel boom lifts passenger traffic. Singaporeans are travelling all over the world, he said, along with others in Asia as incomes across the continent rise.

He gave as an example his recent holiday in Japan, during which he visited Mount Fuji and encountered more Singaporeans than Japanese on the iconic peak.

Mr Lee said other regional airports are expanding to take advantage of the opportunities created by the boom in air travel: Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi are both aiming to serve 100 million passengers a year.

But while they are both geographically better placed to be South-east Asia’s air hub, he said, they are not Changi, and that makes a difference.

“The question,” he asked, “is whether we want to stay a vibrant hub in South-east Asia, or let others take over our position, our business, and our jobs?”

His answer: “I think we must be part of this growth, plan ahead and continually build up Changi.”

Mr Lee, who sketched out plans already afoot to upgrade the airport, including building the new T4 terminal, noted that while Changi is an icon of Singapore, it is more than an emotional symbol.

“It is how the world comes to Singapore and how Singaporeans connect to the world,” he said, adding that it is a reason “we thrive as an international hub for business, trade and tourism”.

The airport and related services provide 163,000 jobs and account for 6 per cent of GDP, he said.

Building T5, which he described as “sounding like a terminal, but actually, it’s a whole airport by itself, as big as today’s Changi Airport”, will allow Singapore to keep its pole position as an international hub.

The move to build the new terminal, the Prime Minister said, is among the “tangible things” being done to build the city and improve the living environment.

Citing Punggol Waterway, the Jurong Lake District and Sports Hub as other examples of this, Mr Lee also announced that there would be another project to transform Changi Airport.

Code-named “Project Jewel”, it will involve converting the open-air car park into an oasis of sorts.

As an animated artist’s impression of what appeared to be a glass-encased dome flashed on the giant screen behind him, Mr Lee said “Project Jewel” would expand T1’s capacity and would have shops, restaurants and an indoor garden.

This “Gardens by the Airport”, he said, would not be just for visitors, but would be for Singaporeans who want a day out, newlyweds taking bridal photos and, he quipped, students studying.

During his speech, Mr Lee also touched on a personal connection to Changi Airport.

Noting that the country’s first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had pushed for it to be built against the advice of experts who recommended that the old Paya Lebar Airport be expanded, he said he was a “guinea pig” for Changi.

He revealed how he was among the first passengers to use Changi Airport in 1981, when he was still with the Singapore Armed Forces, and took off on a test flight before it opened to help test the systems.

Mr Lee returned to Singapore a few weeks later, after the move from Paya Lebar was completed, and found Changi to be a vast improvement over the old airport.

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