Air Transport World

Pearl of the Orient: Singapore's Changi Airport thrives by looking after its customers and staying ahead of the competition.(Airports)

Singapore's Changi Airport best can be described as a work in progress, but unlike other works in progress the development does not affect the seemingly effortless daily operations of what is arguably the world's finest airport. While it may not have the marble floors and spectacular ceilings of Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International or the magnificence of Hong Kong's showpiece at Chek Lap Kok--both built long after Changi opened--its claim to fame, aside from its glorious gardens and swimming pools for transit passengers, is that it consistently is ahead of all other airports when it comes to planning for the future.

At the helm of that planning is Wong Woon Liong, DG-Civil Aviation for the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, who is far more focused on maintaining Changi's competitive edge than winning architectural awards. Wong cites the Hub Development Fund, Growth Incentive Scheme and SARS Relief Fund as examples of the kind of priorities that make other airports play follow-the-leader when it comes to attracting airlines.

Besides, Changi will be in competition for plenty of awards when its new Terminal 3 opens in two years. According to Wong, T3 has as its design criteria "the four guiding principles of clarity, natural lighting, external views and maintainability." Movement through the building will be simple and intuitive while the natural lighting will give an open and spacious ambience and passengers will have visual access to the external landscape. Numerous skylights in the flat roof will bring light into the terminal and a series of louvers suspended above and below the roof will ameliorate the hot, harsh rays of the midday Singaporean sun. …

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