It was a busy year for Changi Airport, which handled a record 58.7 million passengers last year, 5.9 per cent higher than in 2015. Dec 23 was the busiest day ever, with 202,359 passengers handled. With a slew of projects in the pipeline, Changi is aiming to fly even higher than it has in the last 36 years. Lim Yong traces its progress over the years and gives a snapshot of what lies ahead.

Since Changi Airport started operating in 1981, it has won 533 best airport awards, out of which 26 were received last year. These include Skytrax’s World’s Best Airport Award 2016 – for the fourth time in a row – and Business Traveller’s “Best Airport in the World” award for the 29th consecutive year. Despite the accolades, competition is tough and Changi has to keep upgrading and improving to maintain its status as a premier air hub for regional and global trac. From 8.1 million passengers a year when Terminal 1 opened in 1981, trac has grown to 58.7 million last year. By 2025, it is expected to hit about 80 million. To ensure adequate future capacity, T4 will open in the second half of this year while T5 – which will eventually be bigger than T1, T2 and T3 combined – is slated to open by the end of the next decade. When all the work is done, Changi will be able to handle about 135 million passengers a year, from 66 million now. To wow travellers and visitors, construction is in full swing for Jewel Changi Airport, which is slated to open in 2019. Located where T1’s open-air carpark used to be, the multi-storey Jewel complex will feature mainly retail oerings and be linked directly to the terminal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'High-flier'. Print Edition | Subscribe