It’s safe to say that the Jetstar Asia and Changi Airport teams won’t be exchanging Christmas cards this year, after the two had an almighty spat over the airline’s relocation to Terminal 4.
It all started in July 2022, when Changi Airport Group (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.
That…did not go well with Jetstar, who issued an indignant press release stating it was “extremely disappointed” about CAG’s “unilateral” announcement, and that they had “no intention of moving” until an agreement was reached. Frenzied negotiations have been taking place since then, and 25 October came and went with Jetstar remaining at Terminal 1 after getting a last-minute stay of execution.
And now, we have a resolution. Following a joint study by the two parties, Jetstar Asia will relocate from T1 to T4 by 25 March 2023.
Jetstar relocating to Terminal 4 in March 2023
Jetstar will relocate its operations from Changi T1 to T4 by 25 March 2023, one day ahead of the commencement of IATA’s Northern Summer schedule. This will enable Jetstar to adjust its flight timings without disruption to existing customers, necessary to accommodate the higher Minimum Connecting Time (MCT) involved with transfers between T4 and the rest of Changi Airport.
CAG has released the following statement on the move:
“CAG values Jetstar Asia as an airline partner and we are pleased to reaffirm our strategic partnership. We have been working very closely with Jetstar Asia over the past few months to study intensively the potential impact of its move on passenger experience and its business.
Following the completion of our joint study, which included operational trials, we are glad to have reached agreement. Jetstar Asia’s move will enable Changi Airport to optimise the use of its aircraft gates in order to meet increasing travel demand, especially during the early morning peak period. It will also create headroom for Jetstar Asia and other airlines to grow at Changi”
-Lim Ching Kiat, CAG MD of Air Hub Development
Jetstar is likewise striking a more collegial tone than their initial press release.
“I extend my appreciation to CAG and the many Jetstar team members who were involved in this critical joint study. Our priority has always been to provide a safe operation while continuing to offer the excellent travel experience our customers have come to expect from Jetstar.
Since launching our operations in Singapore 18 years ago, Jetstar has called Terminal 1 home. During this time, we have welcomed more than 40 million customers on board our flights and extended our excellent product offering to premium airline partners including Qantas, Emirates and around 40 other codeshare and interline carriers.
Moving to Terminal 4 is the start of a new chapter. We are committed to continuing to ramp up our operation and plan for future growth, and we appreciate the assurances that CAG have given ahead of this move”
-Barathan Pasupathi, Jetstar Asia CEO
I do wonder what kind of behind-the-scenes horse trading must have happened, though.
CAG argues that T4’s 17 narrow body aircraft gates are well-suited for Jetstar’s operations, reducing the need for bussing operations to remote stands.
However, Jetstar clearly didn’t want to relocate to T4, given its reliance on connections with T1 carriers like Emirates and Qantas. Relocation will present a significant inconvenience to passengers, because T4 is physically separated from the other three terminals, relying on 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 will cut their enjoyment time significantly.
So I imagine Jetstar must have received some sort of concessions, be it in the form of discounted fees or manpower commitments to facilitate transfers.
What’s the Terminal 4 situation now?
As a reminder, the following airlines have relocated (or will relocate) to Changi Terminal 4.
|✈️ Airlines Relocating to T4|
|Airline||Current Terminal||Relocation Date|
|Cathay Pacific (CX)||T1||13 Sep 22|
|Korean Air (KE)||T1||13 Sep 22|
|Air Asia (AK, Z2, QZ, FD)||T1||15 Sep 22|
|Bamboo Airways (QH)||T1||20 Sep 22|
|Cebu Pacific (5J)||T1||20 Sep 22|
|HK Express (UO)||T1||20 Sep 22|
|Jeju Air (7C)||T1||20 Sep 22|
|Juneyao Air (HO)||T1||20 Sep 22|
|Thai VietJet Air (AZ)||T3||22 Sep 22|
|VietJet Air (VJ)||T3||22 Sep 22|
|Vietnam Airlines (VN)||T3||22 Sep 22|
|Jetstar Airways (3K)||T1||25 Mar 23|
This represents the bulk of the pre-COVID T4 operators, with others like Hainan Airlines and GX Airlines yet to resume Singapore services.
CAG has already reopened certain retail and dining outlets, with more to open progressively in the coming months.
T4 has two lounges, operated by Cathay Pacific and Plaza Premium. Cathay Pacific’s lounge is staying shut for now, since the airline’s schedule calls for just a fraction of the nine daily flights offered pre-COVID.
This means that the Blossom Lounge will be taking on all eligible passengers, with access available to premium cabin travellers as well as those with Dragon Pass, Lounge Key and Priority Pass memberships (it’s one of the few Plaza Premium facilities that retained ties with Lounge Key and Priority Pass, following their break-up in 2021).
For more information on what you can expect at the reopened Terminal 4, refer to the article below.
CAG and Jetstar have finally come to an agreement regarding the latter’s relocation to Terminal 4. I can’t imagine this was a frictionless exercise, though it appears Jetstar’s concerns have been suitably placated.
The relocation will be bad news for elite passengers who would have otherwise received access to the excellent Qantas First and Business Lounges at T1, as their lounge time will be cut or eliminated altogether. It also presents an extra layer of work for all connecting passengers, since the T4 bus connections aren’t quite as seamless as the Skytrain.