Terminal 4 to be ready in 2017: 5 things about Changi Airport

Changi Airport's iconic control tower.
Changi Airport's iconic control tower.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Changi Airport will look a very different place in the next 10 years.

The international airport announced this week that more than 70 per cent of Terminal 4's main building had been completed, and it will open in 2017 with at least six airlines. Meanwhile, The Straits Times has discovered that Terminal 5 - a megastructure slated to open in 10 years - is going to be 10 times the size of VivoCity - Singapore's largest mall.

Singapore's world-famous airport is no stranger to change, and has been evolving since it started operations in 1981.

Here are some things that make Changi airport stand out.


   Flight SQ 101 was the first scheduled commercial flight to land at Changi Airport. PHOTO: ST FILE 

1. Its beginnings

July is the birthday month of Changi Airport, which started scheduled flight operations from Terminal 1 on July 1, 1981.

It was Asia's largest airport at the time.

The first flight to arrive at the airport that day - SQ 101 - carried 140 passengers from Kuala Lumpur. The first flight departing from the airport was SQ 192, bound for Penang.

2. Control tower

The 78m-tall control tower, designed by the Public Works Department, was a popular spot for newly weds to take their wedding photos when it was first built.

The air traffic controllers there handle about 700 aircraft movements daily.

Located at the centre of the airport, it allows for maximum visibility and coverage of the airport.

This video, which Changi Airport posted on its Facebook page this month, is proof. 

3. Ever expanding

When Changi Airport was inaugurated in July 1981, the passenger volume was only 8 million. By 2014, it handled morethan 54 million passengers.

Terminal 2, which opened in November 1990, wasinitially advertised as an "Airtropolis", but the more prosaic Terminal 2 has stuck.

Even while it was being built, plans were being drawn for Terminal 3, and there was talk of a fourth terminal in 1989.

In January 2008, Terminal 3 commenced scheduled flight operations.

When completed in 2017, Terminal 4 will move up to 16 million passengers a year.

Terminal 5 is expected to see Changi move 140 million passengers a year.

4. Gardens, playgrounds, movie theatres in an airport

The Butterfly Garden, a sunflower garden, Singapore's tallest slide, theatres screening free movies, plus over 350 shops and 120 food outlets.

Airports, and Changi in particular, have transformed from places of transit to destinations in themselves.

5. Behind Changi

Did you know there is warren of underground conveyor belts that transfers baggage from terminal to terminal at Changi?

You can take a look behind the scenes to see how the airport, which runs day and night, handles 70,000 pieces of baggage a day, store fresh produce from around the world, and puts out fires in its new web video series Behind Changi.