A Focus on Singapore Changi Airport

Posted: 9 June 2010 | Mr Foo Sek Min, Executive Vice President (Airport Management), CAG | No comments yet

It has been an eventful 18 months for Singapore Changi Airport. A key development – the corporatisation of the airport – took place on 1 July 2009, with the formation of Changi Airport Group (CAG) and the restructuring of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). Moving forward, CAG and CAAS will work together to further develop Singapore as a leading global air hub.

It has been an eventful 18 months for Singapore Changi Airport. A key development – the corporatisation of the airport – took place on 1 July 2009, with the formation of Changi Airport Group (CAG) and the restructuring of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). Moving forward, CAG and CAAS will work together to further develop Singapore as a leading global air hub.

Corporatisation of Changi Airport

The corporatisation of Changi Airport, first announced by the Singapore government in August 2007, paves the way for a more focused role and greater flexibility for CAG, in order for it to better meet future challenges.

As the airport company managing Changi Airport, CAG undertakes key functions focusing on airport operations and management, air hub development, commercial activities and airport emergency services. With the corporatisation of Changi Airport, a regulatory framework has been put in place to strengthen Singapore’s position as a competitive air hub.

In addition to its role in airport operations, investments in and consulting for overseas airports is also a major driver of CAG’s business strategy. These activities are carried out by Changi Airports International (CAI), a wholly owned subsidiary of CAG. CAI’s most recent investments are a 26% stake in India’s Bengal Aerotropolis Project Limited and a 5% stake in Gemina S.p.A, the holding company of Aeroporti di Roma. It is also involved in consultancy projects in China and the Middle East.

Valuing partnership

CAG greatly values its partnership with all airlines, both full service and low cost carriers. Our goal is to work closely with our airline partners to bring about win-win growth for both the airlines and Changi Airport. CAG adopts a customised approach in our partnership with airlines, with incentives and joint collaborations tailored according to the individual airline’s business model and needs.

In January 2010, CAG launched the Changi Airport Growth Initiative (CAGi), a strategic programme designed to enhance CAG’s partnership with airlines and airport stakeholders to drive Changi Airport’s growth. CAGi supports Changi Airport’s long term growth by incentivising airlines and other airport partners (like the ground handlers and freight forwarders) to boost passenger and cargo traffic at Changi, and to strengthen Changi’s network.

For example, incentives are available to airlines which launch new destinations previously not linked with Changi and to new airlines starting operations at Changi. Airlines which achieve passenger growth also stand to enjoy rewards under CAGi. A strong illustration of such a mutually beneficial airport-airline partnership is the one recently established between CAG and the Jetstar Group. As Jetstar commits, among other things, to make Changi Airport its largest air hub in Asia for both short and long haul operations, CAG also supports Jetstar’s growth at Changi with incentives and other operational initiatives.

Latest projects and developments

Upgrading of Terminal 1

While changes have been taking place at the corporate level, airport development projects continue to progress. After the successful opening of Terminal 3 in 2008, we embarked on a major upgrade programme for Changi’s grand old dame, Terminal 1, which opened in 1981. The project, at an estimated cost of S$500 million, is expected to be completed in late 2011. With the concept ‘Tropical City’, the upgraded Terminal 1 will see improved passenger flow and an enhanced passenger experience, with a refurbished interior design and finish.

As part of the works, a new departure kerbside canopy will be constructed to span the entire length of the building façade and extend over the first two lanes of the departure kerbside. This will provide shelter from the elements for passengers arriving at the terminal. A new centralised Departure Immigration will be created to improve passenger flow and wayfinding. The main terminal building will be extended into the airside to increase the space available for new services and facilities. To provide for more spacious movement and waiting areas, the main thoroughfare, gate holdrooms and finger piers along the older sections of the terminal will also be widened.

Expansion of the Budget Terminal

Low cost carriers (LCC) have been rapidly expanding their operations at Changi Airport since they came onto the scene six years ago. They have been a major key driving force behind traffic growth at Changi Airport. In 2004, LCCs accounted for fewer than 2% of Changi’s passenger traffic. In 2009, LCCs accounted for 19.1% of passengers and 23.6% of flights at Changi, compared to 12.3% and 15.7% respectively in 2008.

A major factor contributing to the strong growth in LCC traffic has been the liberalisation of air service agreements between Singapore and its ASEAN neighbours, with traffic growth most pronounced on sectors to and from Malaysia and the Philippines. Some of the LCCs that have been registering growth at Changi include Tiger Airways, Jetstar Asia and the AirAsia Group.

At Changi Airport, LCCs operate at Terminal 1 and the Budget Terminal. To accommodate more LCC traffic, the Budget Terminal, which opened in March 2006, was expanded in 2009. The terminal can now handle seven million passengers per annum, up from 2.7 million previously. The number of check-in counters was increased from 18 to 25 and there are now 10 passenger boarding gates, from the original seven. Adding to passenger comfort and convenience, the canopy at the departure and arrival halls, as well as that along the linkway to the taxi stand, was extended to provide more shelter from the sun and rain. The open corridor from the arrival gate to the arrival hall has also been air-conditioned.

Foreign Object Debris Detection System – iFerret

To further improve the safety of aircraft operations, Changi Airport conducted a trial in 2006 on an intelligent vision-based Foreign Object and Debris (FOD) detection system, iFerret, which enables real-time runway surveillance. This FOD system detects fallen parts of an aircraft, detached runway light fittings, construction and loose pavement materials and other items on a runway. Following a successful trial, a contract was awarded in 2008 for the system to be deployed at Changi Airport’s runways. iFerret is now at its final fine tuning stage before it becomes fully operational.

While changes have been taking place at the corporate level, airport development projects continue to progress

While changes have been taking place at the corporate level, airport development projects continue to progress

Enhancing the Changi experience

CAG takes pride in consistently delivering the Changi Experience and the awards that we receive are affirmation and encouragement from our stakeholders, including the millions of passengers and visitors we serve every year.

Service transformation

Service excellence has always been CAG’s focus and it will continue to drive how we operate Changi. We are in the midst of executing a series of projects under an 18-month service transformation initiative, aimed at enhancing operational efficiency, service quality of frontline staff and customer feedback management. We aim to create at Changi Airport, a feeling that is first class for all our customers. This experience is defined as one which encompasses seamless and efficient operations at every touch-point, friendly service rendered by every service staff member and cutting edge and innovative terminal facilities that augments the entire experience within the airport.

New premium check-in lounge

More recently, a new premium lounge for first and business class passengers of airlines served by SATS, a ground handler at Changi, was opened at Terminal 2. The new lounge offers premium passengers of participating airlines a hassle-free and simplified travel experience, with the exclusivity and con – venience of checking in at a private lounge with direct access to the immigration area. Participating airlines include Air India, All Nippon Airways, Etihad Airways and Korean Air; with more airlines expected to come on board. The opening of this new lounge follows the success of the first SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Terminal 1.

Changi Aviation Gallery

Changi Airport has welcomed millions of visitors over the years, many of whom come just to witness activities at the airport. In the spirit of engaging them and enhancing their airport experience, CAG opened the Changi Aviation Gallery in Terminal 2. The gallery is a multi-sensory zone, with hands-on interactive displays covering a spectrum of ‘on-the-ground’ activities that take place at the airport, such as passenger facilities, aircraft landing and take-off, baggage handling, horticulture, environment-friendly measures, staff working at the airport and emergency and rescue services. A sister gallery featuring ‘in-the-air’ aspects of Changi Airport, such as air cargo and in-flight meals, is being planned at Terminal 3 and will open later this year.

Going green

CAG is committed to the sustainable growth of Singapore’s aviation sector and to address its impact on the environment. We strive to develop Changi Airport’s infrastructure and facilities in an environmentally-conscious manner, and to implement cost-effective and balanced environmental measures. We actively seek cooperative opportunities with our partners and stakeholders to make the airport greener and friendlier for all its users.

In 2009, we embarked on a solar photovoltaic (PV) test-bed project at the Budget Terminal, to convert electricity from direct sunlight. The system involves the installation of PV panels on the rooftop to capture sunlight during the daytime. The solar PV system converts sunlight into electricity and is generating about 950kWh of energy per day, resulting in energy savings of around S$60,000 per year.

Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 has also attained the Singapore Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark Gold Award. This is a reflection of our efforts to incorporate best practices in environmental design and construction and demonstrates that airport terminal buildings can also play their role in the global effort against climate change. Terminal 3 not only offers a unique nature-themed airport terminal experience for passengers and users, but also showcases state-of-the-art green features for our increasingly environmentally-conscious travellers and business partners.

In summary

CAG’s mission is to be the world’s leading airport company, growing a vibrant air-hub in Singapore and enhancing the communities we serve worldwide. Even with corporatisation, our key priorities have not changed – pro – viding excellent customer service, efficiency of operations, world-class facilities and ensuring sufficient capacity to cater to the needs of airlines and passengers.

About the Author

Mr Foo Sek Min

Mr Foo Sek Min has 15 years of experience in managing all aspects of Changi Airport operations. During his career, he has been closely involved in various infrastructure projects, including the extension of the Terminal 2 finger piers in 1995/1996, Terminal 2 upgrading from 2003 to 2006, the opening of the Airport Logistics Park of Singapore in 2003, the design, construction and opening of the Budget Terminal in 2006 and the operational opening of Terminal 3 in 2008. He has been credited with launching many new ‘World’s First’ initiatives to enhance customer satisfaction. These include the ‘First Internet Centre in an Airport’ in 1996, ‘First Thematic Television Lounges in an Airport’ in 1999, ‘First Airport Gameshow’ in 2001 and ‘First Airport Butterfly Garden’ in 2008. He also assisted with the handling of the MI185 Palembang crash in 1997 and played a key role in the handling of the SQ6 crash in 2000 in Taipei. In recognition of his innovation and contributions to Changi Airport, he received the Public Administration Medal (Bronze) in 2003 and the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2009, as well as the Minister Innovation Award for five consecutive years from 2002 to 2006. Mr Foo currently holds the position of Executive Vice President (Airport Management) and oversees the entire Changi Airport and Seletar Airport day to day operations, Changi Airfreight Centre, engineering and development, airport emergency and fire fighting services, aviation security and aerodrome safety.

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