For the past few months, there’s been a fascinating tussle going on between Changi Airport Group (CAG) and Jetstar Asia regarding the latter’s continued occupation of Changi Terminal 1.
It all started in July 2022, when CAG announced that Terminal 4 would reopen in September 2022 following a shutdown of almost two-and-a-half years. CAG published a list of 16 airlines relocating, including Jetstar with a proposed date of 25 October 2022.
If this came as a surprise to observers, imagine how Jetstar felt. Within hours of the announcement, it published a strongly-worded press release of its own:
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….Until an agreement is reached, we have no intention of moving and have informed CAG of that fact.
Both parties have since been engaged in ongoing discussions, and with 25 October just one day away, Jetstar appears to have been granted a reprieve.
Jetstar remaining at Terminal 1 (for now)
The Straits Times reports that Jetstar will remain at Terminal 1 for now, beyond its supposed relocation date of 25 October 2022. A CAG spokesperson confirmed that the move will not take place as originally planned, and that an announcement would be made “soon”.
A joint study of the airline’s operations at the airport has been concluded, and the way I see it, there’s two possible outcomes:
- Jestar remains at T1 and the status quo is maintained
- Jetstar relocates to T4, but with special concessions for its transit passengers including special bussing arrangements and dedicated ground staff to facilitate transfers
If Jetstar remains at T1, it’s likely CAG will need to find another carrier (or carriers) to take its place. Jetstar has multiple departures spread out over the morning, and I doubt CAG would be content to leave all those gates idle.
On the other hand, if Jetstar moves to T4, I’m trying to picture the kind of logistical support that CAG would have to promise it. I imagine Jetstar would want transfer buses synced to arrivals/departures of key partners like Emirates and Qantas, with ground staff on hand to chaperone transiting passengers and handle “hot transfers” of luggage. It does seem like it would tie up a lot of manpower, which is why I’m leaning towards Jetstar remaining at T1.
The Terminal 4 conundrum
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.
Bus services between T4 and other terminals run every 10-13 minutes, and while that may not sound like a long time, it can make all the difference for those on tight connections (or when you’ve just stepped off a long-haul redeye flight). Moreover, a terminal change increases the possibility of other logistical snafus, like passengers getting lost and bags being mishandled. It’s simpler to just keep everything under one roof.
Let’s not forget that Qantas elites can enjoy the comfort of the Qantas Business Lounge or Qantas First Lounge even when flying on Jetstar, but these facilities are located in T1. A relocation to T4 would cut their enjoyment time significantly.
Here’s a great post by aviation analyst Brendan Sobie that summarises the dilemma.
Jetstar Asia will not be relocating to Changi Terminal 4 on 25 October 2022 as originally planned, with CAG set to make an an announcement about the carrier’s fate shortly. I’m leaning towards a continued tenancy of Terminal 1, though that does raise questions as to who will take their place at T4.
Terminal 1 or 4: what do you think the future holds for Jetstar Asia?