Changi Airport operates flights to 150 locations. Credit: Alen thien via Shutterstock.
Changi Airport handled 58.9 million passenger movements in 2023. Credit: CAG.
The T2 expansion project added almost 21,000m2 to the terminal building. Credit: CAG.
Terminal 4 has a capacity to handle up to 16 million passengers annually. Credit: CAG.
Terminal 5 is being developed located inside the 1,080ha Changi East complex. Credit: CAG.

Singapore’s Changi Airport is a major aviation hub in Asia, located in Changi planning area approximately 20km north-east of Singapore’s centre.

The airport is managed and operated by the Changi Airport Group (CAG) of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). The Singaporean Government decided to build Changi in 1975 following congestion at the other airports in Singapore. Phase one of the airport opened in 1981 and the airport has been experiencing rapid growth since then.

The airport serves more than 6,400 weekly flights from up to 100 airlines that operate to approximately 150 locations. Changi received the World’s Best Airport title from Skytrax 12 times. Since opening, the airport has garnered more than 670 awards, making it the world’s most-honoured airport.

The airport handled 58.9 million passenger movements and 1.74 million tonnes of airfreight throughput in 2023.

Changi phase one and two

The Changi Airport was constructed at the tip of the main island at Changi and required an extensive land reclamation project.

This area was chosen because land could be reclaimed from both swamp and sea and thus not use any of the valuable land in Singapore, and noise pollution from landing aircraft was minimised by the aircraft approach being over the sea.

Land reclamation works involved the use of more than 52 million cubic metres of landfill and seafill. Around 2km² of swampland was cleared and filled with 12 million cubic metres of earth from the hills nearby and a further 40 million cubic metres of sand was used to fill up the seabed, creating half of the airport’s total land area.

Phase one of construction included the first passenger terminal building, the first runway, 45 aircraft parking bays and supporting facilities and structures, including a huge maintenance hangar, the first fire station, workshops and administrative offices, an airfreight complex, two cargo agents buildings, in-flight catering kitchens and an 80m-high control tower.

Phase two construction included the completion of a second runway, 23 more aircraft parking bays, the second fire station and a third cargo agent building.

Changi Airport terminal details

Changi Airport’s Terminal 2 (T2) was opened in 1991. The terminal underwent transformation in 2020 to increase handling capacity, improve facilities, and introduce new efficient systems. The renovated Terminal 2 opened in November 2023.

T3 opened in January 2008 and expanded the airport’s annual capacity from 22 million passengers to 68.7 million.

T4 was opened in October 2017 and has a capacity to handle 16 million passengers a year.

T5 was announced in 2013 as a joint project between the country’s Ministry of Transport, the CAAS, and CAG.

The project was put on hold in 2020 due to the global pandemic. The development works resumed in 2022 and the terminal is expected to open in the 2030s.


The airport has two parallel runways, 02L/20R (4,000m) and 02C/20C (4,000m).

Runway 02L/20R was completed and opened in 1981 as part of the first phase. The second runway 02C/20C was constructed completely on reclaimed land and was opened in phase two.

A further parallel runway 02R/20L (2,748m) was built 1.8km to the east of 02C/20C (opened in 2004) but is only used by Singapore Air Force and forms part of Changi Airbase to the east.

Budget terminal

A budget terminal was opened in March 2006 to serve budget airlines and charged lower landing fees, handling fees, and airport tax as compared to the main terminal. It handled 2.7 million passengers a year, had ten contact bays and a concourse floor area of 25,000m².

The budget terminal did not provide the frills that the main terminals provided but essential services such as air-conditioning, duty-free shops, and food and drink outlets were provided.

The terminal was closed in September 2012 and demolished in 2013 to construct the new T4.

Changi Airport Terminal 3

The S$1.75bn ($900m) terminal project included a new baggage-handling facility, an automated people mover connecting the three terminals, a new nine-storey Crown Plaza hotel (7,700m² site, accommodating 350 guests) and 28 new aerobridge gates, of which eight are able to handle the Airbus A380.

The T3 building has a gross floor area of 430,000m². Spread over seven levels, of which three are underground, the terminal houses 28 boarding gates and increased available car parking spaces by 1,800.

In addition, 25,000m² of floor space in the terminal is occupied by 100 retailers, more than 40 food and drink outlets and 20 service concessions.

Terminal 3 features

The roof of T3 features a unique architecture, which allows soft natural light into the building while keeping the tropical heat out.

In addition, it is installed with 919 skylights with specially designed reflector panels that automatically adjust themselves to allow an optimal amount of soft and uniform daylight into the terminal building.

At night, the skylights glow with artificial lighting, delicately concealed below the reflector panels. The building also has glass facades along both the landside and airside of Terminal 3, expanding the sense of openness.

Another feature is the five-storey-high vertical garden, called the ‘green wall’. Spanning 300m across the main building, it can be seen from both the departure and arrival halls. The green wall is covered with climbing plants and is interspersed with four cascading waterfalls that help to regulate the internal temperature.

In addition, there is a 300m-long sculptured sandstone art wall display located below.

Changi Airport Terminal 4 details

Terminal 4 is constructed on the site of the old budget terminal located about 2km away from the three main terminals.

The new terminal comprises a two-storey building with a gross floor area of roughly 195,000m², covering 15,000m² of retail spaces.

The terminal features kiosks for self-check-in, self-bag-tagging and self-bag-drops. Other features include advanced and automated baggage handling system based on biometric technology, and fast and seamless travel services.

Baggage handling and screening systems

The complete system comprises two S-3000E tilt-tray sorters, each approximately 1,000m long, a 10,000m-long Crisbag system for the high-speed connection between terminals and the early baggage storage system, check-in conveyors, racetracks, and claim carousels.

The hold baggage-screening systems are automated and includes, VIS 108 and MVT integrated Level 1 systems, as well as certified and computed tomography eXaminer 3DX 6000 systems for level 3 resolution.

Changi Airport features more than 13km of underground inter-terminal transfer luggage system (ITTBS) connecting T1, T2, and T3.

The ITTBS can carry more than 2,700 bags per hour and transports luggage between the three terminals at rates of up to 7m/s.

MRT extension and automated people mover

As part of an expansion of the Singapore mass rapid transit (MRT) system, the East-West line was extended to a new underground station at Changi International Airport, between Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. The station was completed in February 2002.

Changi Airport also built a S$135m automated people mover system (APMS) to aid transfers between the three terminals.

The APMS is a ten-train service running between seven stations along 6.5km of elevated train tracks with two stations at each Terminal 1 and 2 and three in Terminal 3.

The trains themselves feature dedicated areas for baggage trolleys and LCD screens in the train cabins display flight times and other airport information.

Contractors involved

Land reclamation works for the airport were carried out by Penta-Ocean Construction, a construction company based in Japan.

FKI Logistex, through its Danish subsidiary, Crisplant, was appointed the leader of a consortium to supply the complete baggage handling system for the T3. The baggage screening solution was provided by L-3 Security and Detection Systems.

The Terminal 3 building was designed by CPG Consultants. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), an architectural, urban planning and engineering business that designed the roof of T3.

NCS Communications Engineering was the project consultant for the total airport management system, as well as airport information and telecommunication systems for T3.

PWD Consultants prepared reinforced concrete and steel structural details for authority submission and tender purposes.

Fire Safety Design & Engineering performed CFD simulations and design of the ‘depressurised cabin’ principle for SHEVS and CRISP (evacuation simulation) in close collaboration with PMD Architects (Singapore). Woodhead International planned the interior of the T3.

A consortium led by SAA Architects was selected by CAG to design and construct the T4, in April 2013. The consortium also includes Benoy, AECOM Singapore and Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner.

CSC provided foundation works for the construction of the T4 and other infrastructure related services, under a contract awarded in September 2013.

Changi Airport’s baggage systems were provided by Beumer, an international intralogistics system provider.