Singapore has opened its budget air terminal for low cost carriers, just days after a similar facility opened in Malaysia amid growing popularity in no-frills travel in Asia.
The one-storey terminal at Changi Airport has 25,000 square metres space, about the size of three football fields, and can handle roughly 2.7 million passengers a year.
It is designed to serve five million after expansion, yet Singapore-based Tiger Airways is the only budget airline to have committed to use the terminal, which cost $27.8 million.
The facility in Kuala Lumpur, which opened Thursday has also only attracted one airline, AirAsia, it is 20 kilometres away from the KLIA International Airport.
Across the border in Singapore airport operations, retail and food and beverage businesses at the budget terminal (BT) swung into action as passengers arrived and departed.
To celebrate the commencement of scheduled flight operations, passengers were welcomed with gifts, performances and games on Sunday.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Tiger Airways gave away souvenirs to more than 3,000 passengers throughout the day.
Passengers who donned the free BT caps could take an instant photograph as a souvenir. Setting a light hearted holiday mood was a 3-piece roving band and a M & M mascot that give away free chocolates. In addition, passengers who spent more than $50 in the Departure Lounge stood a chance to win attractive prizes such as shopping vouchers and air tickets in a “Spin-the-Wheel” promotion.
To further enhance travellers’ experience and to provide variety and value when shopping at the BT, a “Fabulous Friday” promotion will be held every Friday at the terminal. All of the 13 retail shops and five food and beverage outlets at the BT will be offering special value deals and product discounts.
“The commencement of scheduled flight operations at the Budget Terminal today completes the framework for budget travel in Singapore. We are indeed glad to welcome scheduled commercial flights at the Budget Terminal which was completed in December 2005 and operationally ready since the first trial flight from the Budget Terminal on 2 February 2006,” said Mr Wong Woon Liong, Director-General of Civil Aviation.
He continued, “Both budget carriers and travellers using the Budget Terminal will benefit from cost savings as the terminal’s low cost operating environment allows for lower operating costs for airlines and more than 50% savings in the passenger service charge, which is only $7 at the Budget Terminal.”
Despite its no frills concept, the BT will have a colourful and vibrant ambience as well as a design which facilitates smooth passenger flow. Common services found at an airport such as money changers, F&B outlets, and duty-free shopping are available. Built smaller and simpler than Changi Airport’s Terminals 1 and 2, passengers will find the BT easy to use.
They will be able to find their way around the terminal and have more time to shop or grab a bite before boarding their flights as the boarding gates are close by.
The BT, located along Airport Boulevard, is less than two kilometres away or a 5-minute drive from Changi Airport’s Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Free shuttle bus services plying between the BT and Terminal 2 would also facilitate travellers at Changi Airport who may need to catch a connecting flight to/from the BT.
The decision to build a customised terminal for LCCs was made in 2004 in response to the emerging trend of low-cost travel in the region. CAAS obtained the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) for the BT in December 2005 after which airport agencies and operators moved in to prepare their operations set-up.
Preparatory works, including airport system tests were completed in February 2006. To demonstrate its operational readiness, trial passenger flights departed from the BT on 2 February 2006. Preview visits to the BT were also conducted for more than 18,000 members of the public from 15 to 19 March 2006.