Jewel might not be enough for Singapore to shine

Benjamin Cher

SINGAPORE (Apr 18): Jewel Changi Airport might be Singapore’s new crowning asset. But observers say the shining jewel could have little actual impact on Singapore’s development as an air hub for the long run.

For one, the development is on the landside of the airport, meaning transiting travellers would have to choose to exit immigration to enjoy the facilities.

The changing dynamics of air travel are also working against Singapore’s keeping a grip on its status as a regional air hub: Aircraft are being made to fly farther and longer, and countries in the region, growing at a much faster rate than Singapore, are stepping up the development of their own airports.

Jakarta, for instance, is planning a second international airport, with two runways and connectivity into the city, that will result in a combined handling capacity of over 100 million passengers a year for Indonesia’s capital city.

In Thailand, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport is undergoing a phased expansion that will increase its handling capacity to 150 million passengers annually. It will have four runways to handle 120 flights per hour. Suvarnabhumi is already one of the busiest airports in the region, supporting Bangkok as among the world’s most visited cities.

And, in a few months, the world’s largest air passenger terminal opens at Beijing’s new international airport.

Will Changi’s development be far enough ahead of the competition?

Read more about the deeper challenges that Singapore faces in remaining relevant as a regional hub for business and tourism in The Edge Singapore (Issue 878, week of April 22), now available at newsstands.

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