Singapore’s mesmerizing Changi Airport (IATA: SIN – ICAO: WSSS) was rated the “World’s Best Airport” by Skytrax for the eighth consecutive year.
Despite ageing infrastructure, this 39-year old-airport excels at continuously upgrading and modernizing its terminals and building state-of-the art airport facilities that dazzle millions of visitors every year.
This “miniature city” is located about 20 km from Marina Bay in the eastern end of Singapore on a 13-km2 site. About one flight arrives or departs at Changi airport each 80 seconds. As of December 31 2019, this major Asian transportation hub serves more than a hundred airlines flying to more than 380 cities around the globe. It handled over 68’300’000 passengers in 2019 alone, thus rated the world’s seventh busiest airport that year. Unfortunately, passenger traffic dropped massively in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Changi handled over 2’010’000 tons of cargo in 2019, making it one of the world’s busiest airports by cargo traffic as well. Changi airport is also considered among the best airports in terms or customer service and airport security.
Changi Airport has two main parallel runways: 02L/20R and 02C/20C. Each runway is 4’000m by 60m. 02L/20R is composed of grooved bituminous concrete, with a displaced threshold of 740m. 02C/20C is composed of bituminous concrete, and located 1.6 km to the east of the first runway. Another runway named 02R/20L composed of grooved bituminous concrete is located to the east of 02C/20C currently used by the military only. Plans exist to extend the third runway to handle larger aircrafts, after installing navigation aids, airfield lighting systems and a fire station.
To allow aircrafts to land safely under all weather conditions, four instrument landing systems (ILS) are installed on the two runways.
Located between the first two runways about 81m above mean sea level (AMSL), the air traffic control tower regulates aircraft departure, landing, and maneuvering within the airport.
Aircraft maintenance can be performed at aircraft hangers operated and managed by SIA Engineering Company at Changi Airfreight Center or by SASCO/ST Aerospace.
The airport terminals are arranged in an inverted U-shape, with Jewel, in the center. Terminal one, the airport’s first operating terminal is located in the northern end. Terminal two, the second terminal to operate as of 1990 is located in the eastern end. In 2008, operations began in terminal three, located in the western end. In 2017, the newest terminal four began to operate in the southern end of the airport. With fully automated departure process (check-in, bag-drop, immigration clearance and boarding), this ultramodern terminal totally redefines the whole passenger travel experience and improves operational efficiency. A privately run elite terminal named Jet Quay CIP also exists to serve all passengers with an access fee, comparable to the Lufthansa first class terminal in Frankfurt airport. Unfortunately, operations in terminals two and four have been suspended since May 2020 due to weak demand during the COVID-19 outbreak. A fifth terminal under construction is expected to begin operations in the next decade. Jewel, a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex exists in the heart of the airport, interconnecting terminals one, two and three. It is a joint business venture between Changi Airport Group and CapitaLand, built on a 3.5-hectare site spanning five underground and five basement levels. Jewel, true to its name, is an avant-garde lifestyle destination that integrates spellbinding landscape, exclusive play attractions, hundreds of shopping and dining concepts, a hotel, a rooftop swimming pool, a movie theatre, and “seamless” aviation services all in one place.
In the heart of Jewel lies the largest and tallest indoor water fall in the world, the HSBC rain vortex, an astonishing sight both by day and by night. Shiseido Forest Valley, one of Asia’s largest indoor gardens surrounds the rain vortex enhancing the spectacular view. The Jewel Changi Skytrain provides passengers with a fascinating aerial view of the rain vortex and its surrounding forestry. Shuttle bus is another mode of internal transport at Changi Airport. The topmost level of the Jewel includes Canopy Park, a whimsical park with unique gardens (topiary walk, petal garden) and other leisure attractions. The Canopy Bridge, a glass bottomed bridge with fog emitted at both ends, allows visitors to experience a “walking among clouds” sensation. Canopy Park also includes two unique mazes: the Hedge maze, and the Mirror maze. Unique and dream-like recreational attractions for children and adults alike at Canopy Park include sky nets, discovery slides, and foggy bowls. In addition, the incorporation of high tech digital entertainment zones at Changi Airport make it one of the most interesting airports in the world for all visitors.
The Changi Experience Studio allows visitors of all age group to engage in interactive games and immersive shows and to discover all about this unique airport’s history and current operation.
Changi Airport houses numerous exclusive gardens scattered around all its terminals. The Butterfly Garden at terminal three housing thousands of tropical butterflies is a favorite among the crowds. In addition, unique modern and historically inspired art installations and displays enhance the airport’s Singaporean identity and add to its appeal. A favorite among the crowds is the dynamic Kinetic Rain masterpiece at terminal one.
With its distinguished internal landscaping, unique attractions, and modern aviation services, it is easy to learn why Singapore’s Changi Airport yearly tops the charts for being the best airport in the world.