SINGAPORE - A small fanfare of orchid bouquets, souvenirs and live music performances greeted the first passengers arriving at Changi Airport Terminal 4 on Tuesday as it reopened after more than two years.
They were on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong and are among about 1,000 passengers on five flights - two departing and three arriving - scheduled to use T4 on its first day of operations since it was shut in May 2020 after air traffic plummeted at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cathay Pacific and Korean Air are the first among 16 airlines to start operations at T4, with more to follow in the coming weeks.
Mr Max Shih, 29, a passenger on the Cathay Pacific flight, said the arrival process was fast here, compared with the Hong Kong airport.
Reports said temperature screening arrangements remain in place for those arriving at the Hong Kong airport, with the city still requiring travellers to take tests for the virus and undergo quarantine in hotels upon arrival.
"Here, it feels like everything is back to normal," said Mr Shih, who is in the finance industry and will be in Singapore for close to three weeks for work.
Personal trainer Choi Wai Fong, 32, who was taking a flight to return to Hong Kong after a five-day holiday here with her boyfriend, said: "The staff were really helpful and friendly and I think this terminal is really brand new and quite fancy."
While some shops remain closed, more than 30 retail stores and restaurants, including duty-free shopping, Charles & Keith and TWG Tea, were open. More shopping and dining options will be available progressively in the following months.
To ensure the smooth restart of operations in T4, Changi Airport Group (CAG) has been conducting operational readiness trials with the airlines and airport partners, which involved 3,000 people, since May.
These include rigorous testing of key systems such as baggage handling and automated check-in kiosks, as well as processes such as security screening, said Mr Ang Siew Min, CAG's senior vice-president for airport operations management.
CAG has said that the reopening of T4, which has a handling capacity of 16 million passengers a year, will add to Changi Airport's capacity, ensuring that the air hub can meet the increasing demand for air travel.
When the southern half of Terminal 2 reopens next month, Changi Airport's handling capacity will be restored to its pre-Covid-19 level of 70 million passengers a year.
Of the 16 airlines relocating to T4, many will be budget airlines like AirAsia, which has traditionally anchored the terminal. Other airlines relocating to the terminal include Cebu Pacific and Vietnam Airlines.
Jetstar Group is supposed to relocate to T4 on Oct 25, but the Australian-based group has said the decision had been made "unilaterally" and that it would not move until its concerns are addressed.
CAG said on Tuesday that the two sides are still in the midst of a joint study of the issue.