How to make Changi Airport sparkle even more

The glass walkway leading towards Jewel Changi Airport and the iconic Changi Airport control tower.
The glass walkway leading towards Jewel Changi Airport and the iconic Changi Airport control tower.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

Few can begrudge the Changi Airport Group's (CAG) obvious pride in successfully bridging three terminals with Jewel on what was formerly an open-air carpark, despite some reservations that the mixed development has turned out to be largely a middling food and retail mall (What makes Changi shine, July 1).

Perhaps CAG can incorporate more of such "integrative" works into its plans, especially the possible transformation of Terminals 1 to 4 into one mega terminal cluster with seamless links between them and the upcoming Terminal 5.

Such a consolidation should sharpen the group's overall design, operating and leasing strategies, cut down the costs of refurbishing and maintaining each individually, and trigger thoughts on how space may be created for future expansion within the said terminal cluster, including by shifting the current CIP/VIP complex next to Terminal 2 to a new location.

Above all, the main objective of this exercise is to ensure that CAG's core customer segment of travellers can easily navigate around the aerotropolis for their onward journey, as well as to savour its sights, smells and sounds.

Superior interior connectivity between the combined terminal cluster of Terminals 1 to 4 and Terminal 5 will strengthen Changi Airport's attractiveness.

One viable form of conduit is the establishment of a self-contained and vibrant underground city between the aerotropolis' terminals and other facilities like Jewel, all the way to a potential megacruise-ferry terminal cum mixed development in Tanah Merah (Plans to improve fly-ferry links when Changi T5 opens, May 6).

For example, airside and landside transfer links may be achieved via an underground monorail system to supplement the Sky Train.

Changi is certainly in a very good position to become the first and leading aerotropolis to shape the future of how frequent travellers may travel, work, play and even live at a busy airport complex, either as their home base or hub destination.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2019, with the headline 'How to make Changi Airport sparkle even more'. Print Edition | Subscribe