Changi Airport Terminal 4 to reopen on Sept 13 to ease congestion at other terminals

T4's reopening will add to the airport's capacity, with the terminal able to serve about 16 million passengers per year. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Changi Airport’s Terminal 4 will reopen on Sept 13, with 16 airlines to relocate to the terminal progressively. 

This is as demand for travel rebounds, with airport gates at the currently operating Terminals 1, 2 and 3 becoming increasingly congested. Airlines have been demanding an increase in the number of flights in time for October, the start of the traditionally busier period for flights to and from Europe and America. 

Changi Airport Group (CAG) on Friday (July 22) announced the specific date for T4’s reopening, having previously said it would reopen in September. 

It is set to come before the opening of another quarter of Terminal 2 in October, which means half of T2 will be operational by then. This will return Changi Airport’s handling capacity to its pre-Covid-19 level of 70 million passengers per year.

“Over the next two months, CAG will conduct various operational readiness trials with the airlines and airport partners to ensure the smooth restart of operations in T4,” said CAG. 

“With a capacity of 16 million passengers per annum, the reopening of T4 will add to Changi Airport’s capacity, ensuring that the air hub can meet the increasing demand for air travel, and support airlines’ plans to launch more flights.”

Opened in 2017, T4’s profile is one of mostly low-cost flights, as it has 17 gates to support narrow body aircraft, suitable for smaller low-cost carriers. 

Based on 2019 data, the low-cost carrier’s portion of T4 traffic accounted for 66 per cent of the terminal’s total seat capacity.

Of the 16 airlines relocating to T4, many will be budget airlines like AirAsia, which has traditionally anchored the terminal.

CAG said Cathay Pacific and Korean Air will begin flight operations in T4 on Sept 13, followed by AirAsia Group on Sept 15.

Cebu Pacific, Juneyao Air, Jeju Air, Bamboo Airways and HK Express will begin operations there on Sept 20, while other airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air and Thai VietJet Air will move to T4 on Sept 22. 

Jetstar Group was supposed to relocate to T4 on Oct 25, but the Australian-based group said the move was conducted “unilaterally” and that it would not move until its concerns are addressed.

Mr Tan Lye Teck, CAG’s executive vice-president of airport management, said the high degree of automation at T4 will help Changi Airport overcome manpower concerns, which has been an issue for airports worldwide following the dip in the number of airport workers during the trough of Covid-19. 

These include automated immigration counters which will no longer require passengers to scan their fingerprints to verify their identity, and should allow passengers to walk through by simply scanning their facial structures. 

“CAG will work closely with our airline and airport partners on trials and system tests over the next two months to ensure that all resources are in place for the smooth passage of passengers. We look forward to welcoming passengers again in T4,” he said. 

Airline travel globally has rebounded faster than many had expected as Covid-19 travel restrictions eased.

Singapore had set a target of having passenger traffic hit 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022. In May, a month after Singapore allowed quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travellers, passenger traffic was already at 40 per cent of what it was before, and latest figures show that passenger numbers are already close or have exceeded the target.

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Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia said T4’s reopening is a positive development. It said: “We look forward to working closely with CAG to return to our pre-Covid-19 schedule and provide a seamless travel experience for our guests.”

Mr Mayur Patel, head of Asia for aviation analysis firm OAG, said most of the routes operating out of T4 will be regional. The carriers operating South-east Asian traffic from T4 accounted for 74 per cent of seats based on 2019 data. 

The narrow-body gates at the terminal are also suitable for budget aircraft. 

He said full-fledged carriers like Cathay Pacific which want to open new lounges will also have more opportunities at T4. 

“The activity at T4 should pick up quite quickly. Of course, this is subject to manpower concerns,” he said.

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