No other international airport has clinched the title of “Best Airport in the World” more often than Singapore Changi Airport (SIN).
It has been awarded this title by Business Traveller UK for 36 years in a row, from 1988 to 2023. Travel + Leisure US has also awarded the airport the title every year since 2013.
For decades Changi Airport has been seen as a leader when it comes to innovation, facilities and service.
AeroTime met with Tay Cheng Cheng, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Changi Group, during Singapore Airshow 2024, where she shared what’s in store for Changi Airport in 2024.
How 2023 paved the way for a greater 2024
In 2023, Changi Airport handled 58.9 million passenger movements, representing 86% of the traffic recorded by the airport in 2019.
Changi Airport’s top five passenger markets for 2023 were Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand and India. Among Changi’s top 10 markets, China, Japan and South Korea were the fastest growing compared to 2022.
The airport also welcomed three new passenger airlines: Air Macau, Firefly and TransNusa. It also added two new passenger city links to its network – Biju Patnaik Airport (BBI) in Bhubaneswar, India, and Sanya Phoenix International Airport (SYX) in China.
On the cargo front, Changi Airport welcomed three new freighter services in December 2023 from MSC Air Cargo (Operated by Atlas Air), Sichuan Airlines and Myanmar National Airlines.
All these developments from the previous year have paved the way for a greater 2024.
Tay said that, as of January 2024, Changi had already reached 96% of pre-COVID traffic levels.
“With recovery and passenger traffic, we are fairly optimistic that we will be able to hit pre-COVID levels very soon. So we’re hoping that for the coming year ahead, we will be able to resume the numbers we had before the pandemic,” Tay told AeroTime.
Sustainable project and goals
Ranked by The Straits Times as the fifth busiest international airport in 2023, Changi Airport is striving to be a more sustainable aviation hub through reducing carbon footprint from all practical fronts.
The Changi Group has partnered with developer Keppel to design, build, own and operate a large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the rooftop areas of the airport’s terminal buildings, terminal auxiliary structures, airfield and cargo buildings for a period of 25 years.
According to Tay, installation will be in early 2025 and, when completed, the solar PV system will have a combined generation capacity of 43 Megawatt peak (MWp), of which 38 MWp will be installed on rooftops, making this Singapore’s largest single-site rooftop solar PV system.
“We’re looking at how we can encourage sustainability at Changi, and we have a net zero growth target by 2030,” Tay said. “With that target, we are pleased to be able to find partners we can work with to build the solar panels and to reduce our energy consumption at the airport.”
She added: “The panels will provide power to the terminals currently being used. With the installation of the solar panels, we’re looking to reduce our current power consumption by about 10%.”
Smart solution for baggage handling
According to Tay, Singapore is a country with high lightning levels, especially during the year-end rainy season from December to March, which coincides with high passenger traffic at Changi Airport.
Tay said that in times of severe weather, baggage handling is stopped for the safety of airport workers. “We’ve been exploring a lot of smart technology options that enable us to continue to run and be operationally efficient without affecting passenger experience due to the weather,” she continued.
In January 2024, Changi Airport partnered with transport technology solutions provider Aurrigo International to test the latest version of its electric-powered autonomous vehicle, Auto-DollyTug.
Combining the utility of a baggage tractor and the unit load device (ULD) carrying capability of an airport dolly, the Auto-Dolly Tug features Aurrigo’s auto-loading and release management system that adds bi-directional robotic arms to the body to allow the vehicle to autonomously load and unload the ULD from itself.
Earlier versions of Auto-DollyTug have been trialed at Changi Airport since February 2022. This testing phase gave Aurrigo the opportunity to deploy its vehicles in a live airside environment and to push the limits of its technology in a hot and humid climate, where extreme rain events often get in the way of airside operations.
Recognizing exceptional customer service
Aside from its first-rate facilities and efficient operations, customer service is also given priority at Changi Airport.
“At Changi Airport Group, we promote close collaboration among the airport community, because as an airport, you can only deliver the service if all partners are able to provide similar excellence in service,” Tay said.
In February 2024, Changi held its annual Airport Celebration awards ceremony, which aims to spotlight exceptional employees who went above and beyond to elevate passenger experience.
Recipients were chosen for exceptional dedication that surpassed regular duties, demonstrating initiative, resourcefulness, care, and creativity when handling challenging situations.
One of the awardees was Certis Aviation Security’s Service Operations Executive Haresh S/O Chandran who responded to an urgent call about an elderly German passenger who had fallen and needed ambulance and hospital care. Chandran not only organized medical arrangements but also visited the passenger regularly and even celebrated Christmas at the hospital with the passenger and his wife.
For this exceptional customer service, Chandran was honored by Changi Airport as the ‘Service Personality of the Year’ for 2023.
Jewel’s fifth anniversary
Jewel Changi Airport, more casually known as “Jewel”, is a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex surrounded by and linked to one of the passenger terminals at Changi. It was opened in April 2019.
At the center of Jewel is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, the Rain Vortex, set amid a lush, rainforest theme. The stunning complex is indeed the ‘jewel’ of Changi Airport, attracting roughly 300,000 visitors per day.
The crowd-puller is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2024, and Tay revealed that from April 2024 throughout the rest of the year the airport will be marking the occasion with several events and “lots of fun activities for visitors to enjoy”.
Taylor Swift Singalong at Jewel
Award-winning US singer and songwriter Taylor Swift is coming to Singapore for a six-night concert between March 2-9, 2024, and Changi Airport is treating Swifties to a special event.
On March 1, 2024, Changi Airport is hosting ‘beJEWELed’, an enchanting sing-along event at the Shiseido Forest Valley in Jewel.
Set under starlight amid lush greenery, Swifties can look forward to a night of singing Taylor Swift’s greatest hits, and will receive exclusive limited-edition merchandise.
Tay said that since Changi Airport has advertised the event across its social media channels, the response has been overwhelming.
“[The response] exceeded our expectations, so we hope that everyone who comes will have a good time,” she said.
Tay added: “Changi Airport is all about ensuring our passengers have the best experience, and we’re always trying to surprise them with events and activities at the airport.”
She said that when it was announced that Taylor Swift was heading over to Singapore, the airport knew there was “no better way to engage our fans, as well as her fans, at Jewel”.