MANILA, Philippines - If you're traveling to or from Singapore via Cebu Pacific, South East Asian Airlines (Seair) or Tiger Airways, take heed: you will be using a new and larger terminal soon.
Changi Airport Group, the operator of Singapore's Changi International Airport, will close its existing Budget Terminal -- which is only 6 years old -- in September 2012.
Changi will build a new and larger facility as part of preparations for the upcoming open skies regime among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Under an open skies regime, airlines can mount flights to and from different destinations or airports in the 10-member nations. It lifts the current highly regulated bilateral arrangements that limit number of flights, capacity and destinations, among others.
As the growth in the aviation industry is largely fueled by budget airlines, Changi is building Terminal 4 to replace the current Budget Terminal by 2015, the target year for the open skies regime among Asean members.
Changi's Terminal 4 is designed to handle 16 million passengers a year. The current Budget Terminal handled only 4.6 million passengers in 2011 and could actually accommodate up to 7 million.
The Budget Terminal, which will be demolished to make way for Terminal 4, is the second in Asia (after Kuala Lumpur International Airport) to open to cater to the budget traveller.
It offers lower landing and handling fees and airport taxes, and has no aerobridges, elaborate physical structures and terminal building decorations.
Changi said Terminal 4 will have have a wider choice of retail and food and beverage offerings, as well as passenger amenities.
Construction of Terminal 4 will begin in 2013, and expected to be completed by 2017.
Growth of low cost airlines
Changi Airport Group said the 5 current terminals in Changi Airport has a total capacity of more than 70 million passengers per year and still has room to accommodate air traffic growth.
The airport operator wants to plan ahead to ensure there is capacity to handle more traffic spikes.
Singapore is all out in promoting its attractiveness as a destination. Changi said that more passengers are now making stop-overs in Singapore instead of just using the airport facility as a transit point.
In 2011, the 5 terminals at Changi handled 46.5 million passenger movements, representing an annual increase of 10%.
Low cost carriers currently bring in around 1/4 of total passenger volume in the entire Changi Airport, up significantly fromjust 7.7% in 2006, when the Budget Terminal first opened.
To facilitate the construction of Terminal 4, airlines currently operating in Changi’s Budget Terminal will move their operations to the airport’s Terminal 2.
The affected airlines are Berjaya Air, Cebu Pacific Air, Firefly, South East Asian Airlines and Tiger Airways.
The current airlines currently mount flights to and from Singapore's Budget Terminal from the following airports in the Philippines