Full details: Changi Airport Terminal 4 reopening on 13 September

Changi Airport will resume four terminal operations from 13 September with T4's reopening, and there's a spicy showdown with Jetstar looming.

Last month, I wrote about Changi Airport’s plan to reopen Terminal 4 in September 2022, following an almost two-and-a-half years shutdown. Now, we have an official date. Changi Airport T4 will reopen on 13 September 2022, adding capacity for 16 million more passengers per annum. 

That’s very much needed, given the faster-than-expected recovery in air travel. Passenger traffic through Changi Airport for the first week of June was at 48% of pre-COVID levels, and looks likely to further accelerate for the second half of 2022. 

🛫 Passenger Movements at Changi Airport
(in ‘000s)
 20212022Change (%)
January145720+397%
February118703+498%
March1661,140+589%
April1731,930+1,020%
May1712,470+1,339%

Changi Airport Group (CAG) has also announced which airlines will be relocating to T4, and it’s largely as expected- with one key exception. In an unexpected development, Jetstar will be shifting to T4 as well, though under protest. The budget carrier has released a strongly-worded statement opposing the move, a decision it claims was made unilaterally.

Changi Airport Terminal 4 reopening 13 September

Changi Terminal 4’s reopening date has been locked in

Changi Airport T4 will resume operations on 13 September 2022, following two months of operational readiness trials. 

16 airlines will relocate to T4 progressively, with full-service carriers Cathay Pacific and Korean Airlines moving first, followed by a host of budget carriers and Vietnam Airlines in the following week. Jetstar is scheduled to shift one month later on 25 October, though it hasn’t taken the news well at all (more on that in a bit). 

Here’s the full roster of T4 airlines, as announced by CAG. 

✈️ Airlines Relocating to T4
AirlineCurrent TerminalRelocation Date
Cathay Pacific (CX)T113 Sep
Korean Air (KE)T113 Sep
Air Asia (AK, Z2, QZ, FD)T115 Sep
Bamboo Airways (QH)T120 Sep
Cebu Pacific (5J)T120 Sep
HK Express (UO)T120 Sep
Jeju Air (7C)T120 Sep
Juneyao Air (HO)T120 Sep
Thai VietJet Air (AZ)T322 Sep
VietJet Air (VJ)T322 Sep
Vietnam Airlines (VN)T322 Sep
Jetstar Airways (3K, JQ)T125 Oct

Prior to COVID-19, Terminal 4 also served the following airlines, which have yet to resume flights to Singapore:

  • Air Asia X
  • Go Air
  • GX Airlines
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Regent Airways
  • Spring Airlines
  • Urumqi Air

Jetstar relocating to T4 (or is it?)

Jetstar will move to T4 in October 2022, at least

While most of T4 relocations were expected, the announcement that Jetstar would be shifting caught everyone off guard- including Jetstar itself!

Historically speaking, T4 was primarily used for flights that didn’t require transfers, such as point-to-point services between Singapore and Hong Kong or South Korea. But Jetstar’s model relies on connections with other airlines— it currently interlines with T1 carriers like Emirates and Qantas— and relocating would present a significant inconvenience to connecting passengers. That’s because T4 is physically separated from the other three terminals, with airside buses instead of Skytrain service.

T4 is an island unto itself

Relocation would also be bad news for Qantas elites, who currently enjoy the Qantas Business or Qantas First Lounge even when flying on Jetstar. That’s right, you could buy a cheap ticket and spend the evening feasting on some of the finest lounge food Changi has to offer.

Qantas First Lounge T1

But it’s far from a done deal. Jetstar has declared it has “no intention of moving” to T4, in a feisty statement issued just over an hour after CAG’s official announcement.

We are extremely disappointed that the Changi Airport Group (CAG) has chosen to unilaterally announce a plan to relocate the Jetstar Group to Terminal 4 at Changi International Airport, before any agreement has been reached.

A joint study was only agreed to be undertaken last week and this announcement completely disregards that agreement and the impact a move would have on our customers, our people, and our operations

While we remain committed to working with CAG, today’s announcement by the airport ignores our concerns and goes against the spirit of the long-standing partnership we have built over the years.

Until an agreement is reached, we have no intention of moving and have informed CAG of that fact.

-Jetstar Asia

CAG has shown no intention of backing down, however, clapping back with the most polite “deal with it” you could imagine. 

In response to Jetstar’s statement, a CAG spokesman told CNA that the group’s engagement with the airline regarding the move was not recent and had begun in 2019. 

The discussions had commenced before the COVID-19 crisis as Changi Airport was experiencing tight capacity during peak hours, CAG said. 

“The best solution was to move Jetstar to T4 which would provide headroom to support Jetstar’s and other airlines’ growth at Changi, while at the same time ensuring that passenger experience is not compromised,” the spokesman said. 

With air travel resuming, CAG said there was an urgency to “rebalance the airport’s traffic across its terminals quickly” to meet the expected air traffic demand in the upcoming end-year holiday season. 

The group added that it had explained to Jetstar that relocating to Terminal 4 was the only option that would allow the airport to optimally use its aircraft gates. 

“With 17 gates to support narrow body aircraft, T4 is a very good fit for Jetstar which currently operates predominately narrow-bodied aircraft,” the spokesman said.  

“To facilitate the relocation, CAG has also accepted Jetstar’s suggestion to form a joint taskforce to ensure a smooth transition for Jetstar to operate in T4.” 

-CNA

This is popcorn stuff for sure, and no doubt we haven’t heard the last of it. Stay tuned.

What to expect at Terminal 4

Changi Terminal 4 | Photo: CAG

Changi Terminal 4 opened in October 2017, spanning 225,000 sqm and providing handling capacity for 16 million passengers per annum. It occupies the site of the former Budget Terminal (which I think Singapore policymakers would rather forget!), and though it was originally conceptualised as a dedicated terminal for low cost carriers, eventually pivoted to host full-service carriers as well. 

Terminal 4 is big on automation, with the check-in and bag drop process fully self-serve, and immigration and boarding checks handled through facial biometrics. It’s meant to serve as a test bed for these concepts, ahead of the planned Terminal 5. 

Automated bag drop at T4

Terminal 4 is also the only terminal at Changi to offer centralised security screening (as opposed to individual screening at the various boarding gates). This means you can purchase liquids and aerosols in the departure area (or sneak a bottle of water from the lounge) and bring them onto the aircraft. 

Centralised security screening at T4

In terms of airline lounges, there’s only two facilities to note. Cathay Pacific operates its second largest lounge outside of Hong Kong (Taipei takes first place) in T4, a spacious Ilse Crawford-designed facility that opened in November 2017. 

Review: Cathay Pacific Lounge Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4

Cathay Pacific has been housed in T1 ever since April 2020, but is a nailed-on candidate to return to T4. However, it’s doubtful we’ll see the lounge reopening straight away, especially since Cathay Pacific’s schedule to Singapore is rather bare bones at the moment.

Cathay Pacific Business Lounge at Changi T4 | Photo: The Shutterwhale

Service will have increased to 3X weekly flights by the time September comes round, but that’s still too few to justify operating its own lounge. For perspective, prior to COVID Cathay Pacific operated nine daily flights from Changi.

Since there are no other oneworld carriers operating out of T4, Cathay Pacific’s lounge is exclusively for its own passengers. All others may use the Blossom Lounge, a contract facility open to Dragon Pass, Lounge Key and Priority Pass members (it’s one of the few Plaza Premium facilities that has retained ties with Lounge Key and Priority Pass, following their break-up in 2021).

Blossom Lounge Changi Airport Terminal 4 Review

CAG has indicated that at least one lounge will be operating when T4 reopens, which will no doubt be the Blossom.

CAG is also working with the lounge operator at T4 on suitable arrangements to cater to the needs of passengers.

-CAG

Conclusion

T4 boarding gates | Photo: CAG

CAG has locked in 13 September for T4’s reopening, which will bring Changi back to four terminal operations for the first time since the pandemic began. With T2 further resuming departure operations in October, there’ll be a very familiar vibe around the airport come year end.

It remains to be seen if Jetstar actually moves to T4, however. Both airline and airport have put their foot down, so there’ll have to be a face-losing climbdown from one party eventually. That’s worth keeping an eye on, especially if you’re a Qantas elite, or someone who regularly transits through Changi between Jetstar and Emirates/Qantas.

Do you reckon Jetstar will end up moving?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Ortloc

There’s a lot to be said about CAG’s planning when a terminal is built and torn down in a matter of 10 years, and the replacement terminal was built with only rudimentary connectivity with the other 3 in mind.

CAG would never dream of asking SQ to shift their 737 operations to T4 (“A Perfect Fit for Narrowbody Aircraft” should be T4’s tagline) and it’s no wonder Jetstar is livid.

JW19

Why are they forcing Jetstar to relocate, if anything it should be scoot going there. Jetstar has so much coherency in its operations with Qantas and Emirates and oneworld including lounge arrangement it doesn’t make sense pushing just a few A320s there. Very poor planning from CAG. Those that should go are airlines unrelated to alliances like Myanmar, Nepal, etc….

David Fu

CAG point on airport capacity rebalancing on morning peak hours is understandable as most of the aircraft that overnight in Singapore for morning departure would have to be from Singapore based carriers. At the present moment there are no local anchor airlines in T4 that would park their aircraft overnight there, and Jetstar just happen to fit this criteria owing to their all narrow body fleet. In the pre-covid time, we would see many Silk Air planes parked overnight at T4 gates and towed to adjacent T2 as the morning goes by. While Changi initially would have hoped Scoot predecessor… Read more »

asprino

So much for “level playing field” lol

[…] Temps des détroits, Millelion, CNN, Terminal passagers aujourd’hui, Poste […]

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