Terminal 2 at Singapore Changi Airport will begin to reopen – in a small fashion at least – from the end of this month, having been shuttered in May 2020 due to falling traffic levels caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The closure has also been allowing the airport to accelerate the terminal’s expansion and renovation works, set to increase capacity to 28 million on completion, while of course also saving on operating costs at a time of low passenger demand.
A reopening has been on the cards, however, with Transport Minister S. Iswaran confirming in March this year that the facility would “be progressively opened” during the course of 2022.
Part of T2 arrivals to reopen on 29 May
From 29th May 2022 a small section of Terminal 2’s southern section (closest to T4) will reopen, primarily to cater for peak-hour arrivals normally handled in Terminal 3.
Passengers will arrive at contact gates in T2, and be processed through immigration at the terminal, reclaiming any checked luggage from one of only three completed baggage reclaim belts, before proceeding to T2’s arrival area.
Unfortunately this will add more confusion for those heading to the airport to collect passengers from flights, with SIA arrivals already split between Terminals 3 and 1, and now potentially taking place in Terminal 2 as well, assuming some SIA flights will be affected.
The availability of taxi and ride-hailing pickups for a small number of flight arrivals at T2 may also be a concern, so hopefully CAG is planning to address this to ensure onward connectivity for a relatively small number of passengers processed through the new section each day.
Check-in will still be at T3
Terminal 2 is still not ready to process check-in and departure immigration formalities for departing passengers, however CAG has said that “a small number of T3 departure flights may use boarding gates at T2”.
In this case check-in and departure immigration will still be processed at T3, following which we suspect passengers will be directed to take the Skytrain to the south wing of T2 to reach their gate when it comes time to board.
That’s not too different to the current setup, where some T3 flights depart from the C gates in T1, though walking is also an alternative to taking the Skytrain in that example. Passengers can also opt to proceed to T1 after check-in at T3 and clear immigration there in this case if they prefer, but that won’t be possible for these upcoming ‘T2 gate’ departures.
Presumably in the coming months T2 will be able to open more significantly, perhaps including departure processing for some airlines.
Once departure processing is available in T2, we should see some airlines who made terminal moves in mid-2020 return to the facility, potentially including the likes of Malaysia Airlines, Air India and Etihad.
Ultimately Singapore Airlines will likely return to T3/T2 split terminal operations once T2 has been fully reopened, as they did before COVID-19, since T3 alone is far too small to accommodate the carrier (pre-pandemic SIA wouldn’t have fit in T3 even without including SilkAir, which has since been merged into the airline).
The T2 revamp
As many of you will recall from our article in January 2020, Terminal 2 is set to receive a major facelift, with work having already started in February 2020, prior to the impact of COVID-19.
This was proposed as a section-by-section project including:
- A new layout for the check-in hall and immigration area
- 20% more retail and F&B floorspace
- A better view of the runways
This expansion will see Terminal 2 become the largest at the airport, securing Changi’s passenger capacity through to the opening of Terminal 5 in the 2030s.
|Capacity of Changi’s Terminals (2020 – 2024)|
A significant 15,500 square metres will be added to the terminal’s floor space, and once completed the project will boost Changi’s annual passenger capacity by a further 5 million to 90 million.
The works were planned to be finished by 2024, however the closure since May 2020 has hopefully allowed the project to progress more quickly, since there have been no open sections or passenger activity to work around.
That meant we expected to see full re-opening of the terminal in its completed form during 2023, though in its latest statement CAG suggests the terminal will reopen over the next two years, so it could still be mid-2024 before we see the full finished product.
Terminal 4 could follow
Another option for 2022 may be the reopening of Terminal 4 at Changi Airport, its newest purpose-built facility which, like T2, was temporarily closed in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The return of airlines like AirAsia, Air India, Cebu Pacific, Korean Air, and Vietnam Airlines to T4 could help ease pressure on T1 and T3, within certain departure windows.
Terminal 2 at Changi Airport will progressively open this year following a two-year closure, and that starts later this month with selected T3 arrivals being processed through a small section of the facility from 29th May.
A small number of departures will also be processed at T2 gates, though check-in and immigration formalities will continue to take place over in T3.
This does seem like a slightly messy partial reopening, in response to rapidly increasing passenger numbers now that border restrictions have been dropped in Singapore and increasingly across the region, leading to a significant spike in demand.
It will be interesting to see whether the reopened section of T2 features any of the latest renovations to the terminal, which have been ongoing since February 2020 and could be completed as early as 2023/24 given the latest quoted timescales.
(Cover Photo: Changi Airport Group)