When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Singapore Changi Airport closed two of its four passenger terminals, starting with Terminal 2 in May 2020 followed by Terminal 4 just two weeks later, to save operating costs amid almost completely decimated passenger numbers.
A two-terminal operation has been in effect ever since, with a recent semi-revival of a small section of Terminal 2 to process peak-hour arrivals and some departures, though check-in for affected flights remains handled through Terminal 3 in the latter case.
Terminal 4 to reopen
With a significant boost in travel demand after Singapore reopened her borders to fully vaccinated travellers from around the world, and later removed all testing requirements, Changi Airport will reopen its newest facility – Terminal 4.
T4 will recommence operations in September 2022, though the exact opening date is yet to be announced, having been closed for over two years, since 16th May 2020.
First opened in October 2017, T4 replaced the Budget Terminal, but was home to a mixture of full-service and low-cost carriers.
Prior to COVID-19, around 490 of Changi Airport’s 3,700 weekly passenger flight departures (13%) were being handled through Terminal 4.
The terminal has 21 contact gates, four of which can accommodate wide-body aircraft, and has a design capacity for 16 million passengers annually.
The final flight to depart from Terminal 4 prior to its closure was a Korean Air service to Seoul at 01:10 on Friday 15th May 2020, though most regular passenger operations had already ceased around a month earlier, as the pandemic took hold.
AirAsia, Terminal 4’s anchor tenant pre-pandemic, has welcomed the decision, with its CEO recently saying “Anytime sooner is great for us… T4 is the most ideal for our operations… we definitely want to fly more to Singapore. We have the capabilities and we want to do it as soon as possible”.
AirAsia was operating over 300 weekly departures from Changi prior to the pandemic, all of which were from T4. Around 60% of those flights have been reinstated, but are currently operating out of T1.
Which airlines are moving back?
Changi Airport has confirmed that all airlines previously operating at Terminal 4 are expected return to the facility upon its reopening in September.
Here’s a list of previous T4 airlines currently operating at Changi that should therefore be moving back to the terminal from September 2022, including which terminal they are temporarily operating from.
Airlines moving back to Changi T4
(in September 2022)
(AK, FD, QZ, Z2)
As you can see, practically all former T4 operators have been temporarily accommodated in T1 during the suspension of T4, with the exception of VietJet and Vietnam Airlines, which have been using T3 during the pandemic.
The reopening of the facility will therefore primarily take the strain off T1 as passenger traffic recovers in the coming months.
These 11 airlines are currently operating a total of 273 weekly departures at Changi, based on June 2022 schedules, which would represent around 56% of T4’s pre-COVID flight volumes.
There are also likely to be some progressive schedule increases from these carriers between now and September 2022, potentially adding to T4’s ‘reopening’ traffic volumes, though even before COVID-19 with around 490 weekly flights the facility was never operating anywhere near its design capacity.
We don’t expect these airlines to move to T4 in September from their current T1 home, since they were never ‘T4 operators’.
Which airlines aren’t moving back?
The following airlines that formerly operated to and from Terminal 4 have not yet restarted passenger flights at Changi since the onset of the pandemic.
At the time of writing these carriers have also not announced any plans to fly to Singapore again by September 2022, when T4 reopens.
T4 Airlines yet to restart operations at Changi
|Operated 14 times weekly to Kuala Lumpur using Airbus A330s|
|Operated 4 times weekly to Bengaluru and 3 times weekly to Kolkata using Airbus A320s*|
|Operated 7 times weekly to Nanning and 7 times weekly to Lanzhou using Airbus A320s|
|Operated 3 times weekly to Haikou using Boeing 737-800s|
|Operated 3 times weekly to Dhaka using Boeing 737-700s|
|Operated 7 times weekly to Shanghai using Airbus A320s|
|Operated 5 times weekly to Urumqi via Wuhan using Boeing 737-800s|
* Go Air ceased flying to and from Singapore in early February 2020. This was unrelated to COVID-19.
These airlines, with 46 weekly departures between them, only accounted for around 9% of T4’s flight volumes pre-COVID.
As and when they reinstate services at Changi after September 2022, these carriers are expected to operate from T4 once again.
Both facilities are located on the mezzanine level above the main departures concourse, after immigration and security, and we’ve got reviews from our visits when they first opened, back in late 2017.
For now there has been no official confirmation about any T4 lounge reopening in tandem with the terminal coming back into use from September 2022, with the Changi Airport Group so far only confirming that “a small number of retail outlets and F&B options” are expected to be available for passengers.
We expect the third-party Blossom Lounge will reopen to coincide with T4 flight departure timings.
The good news is that this facility was spared from the Priority Pass – Plaza Premium divorce of mid-2021, meaning many of our readers holding a credit card with a Priority Pass attached will still enjoy access here.
Unfortunately, Cathay Pacific is currently running a skeleton schedule of just three weekly departures from Singapore to Hong Kong, a far cry from its pre-COVID tally of 63 weekly flights to both Hong Kong and Bangkok.
At the time of writing, the airline is planning the same measly volume of flights from Changi in September 2022, when T4 reopens.
That would be nowhere near enough passenger volume to justify any opening of its own dedicated lounge, especially considering that no other oneworld carriers will fly from T4.
It will take a policy shift for Hong Kong’s borders and COVID-19 flight restrictions to allow the airline to ramp up flights from Changi and connect more significantly to its main hub once again.
In turn that will allow this top-notch lounge, complete with a great Noodle Bar, to open its doors again. Let’s hope for good news for Hong Kong borders between now and September!
Changi’s ‘disconnected’ terminal
If you ever flew to or from Changi T4 prior to its closure, you’ll no doubt remember one relative uniqueness about it compared to the other terminals – it’s not physically connected to them!
Prior to COVID-19, T4 was linked to T2 (and the Airport MRT station) via 24-hour bus service, running every 10 minutes during the day or every 20 minutes overnight.
At the airside (transit) area of T4 beyond immigration and security, there was a bus link to T2’s gate F51 (which, incidentally, is in T2’s reopened section, so could be reinstated). Before COVID-19, the T4⇄T2 service at the transit side ran every 24 minutes.
It will be interesting to see what intra-terminal links are reinstated in September 2022, upon T4’s reopening.
Once a firm date is announced, we expect Changi Airport will outline the connection methods being reinstated between Terminal 4 and the existing terminals, Jewel and the MRT station.
T4 does of course feature its own parking facilities, taxi and ride-hailing pick-up options, for those taking private transport to and from the city.
T4 hasn’t been totally disused
Terminal 4 wasn’t completely redundant during its closure over the last two years.
Despite hosting no regular passenger operations, it was used as a vaccination centre for aviation workers, and later as a routine testing facility for airport staff, who required swabs every few days at one stage during the pandemic, in order to continue working in their roles.
Mainly Miles understands that most routine testing for aviation employees in Singapore has now moved to online self-swab ART reporting, removing the need for any space in T4 for this purpose.
Many of T4’s gates have also been used to park stored aircraft, including disused Singapore Airlines Airbus A380s, four of which were parked at the terminal’s wide-body gates for several months.
During the initial phase of the pandemic in mid 2020, T4 looked as though it had been taken over by Jetstar Asia! At least nine of the carrier’s A320s were stored at the terminal’s smaller gates.
With airlines including SIA gradually bringing more aircraft back into service, there is now likely no need for T4’s parking gates to be used to accommodate stored aircraft.
Terminal 2 has partially reopened
The closure of Changi Terminal 2 in April 2020 allowed the airport to make a head start on renovation works, which will lead to the redesigned facility boasting the highest passenger capacity of all four passenger terminals on completion by mid-2024.
T2 has partially reopened to some peak-hour arrivals already, though a limited number of daily departures from T2 gates are still processed through T3, with passengers making a short Skytrain journey to the gate area, where only basic facilities are available.
Changi Airport has also announced that a larger section of Terminal 2 will be reopened in October 2022, the month after Terminal 4 comes back to life.
This will include check-in and departure passenger processing, plus additional retail and F&B options.
Singapore Changi Airport’s newest Terminal – T4 – will reopen its doors in September 2022, primarily taking the strain off T1.
At least 10 airlines currently operating at Changi will move back across to the facility, which will also offer shopping and F&B options to cater for departing and arriving passengers on close to 300 weekly flights, over half of its pre-pandemic total.
We also predict that T4’s sole third-party ‘Blossom Lounge’ will be available, including to those holding a Priority Pass, though we may have to wait some time for the shutters to be lifted on the popular Cathay Pacific Lounge.
Full details, including the specific reopening date for T4 and exactly which intra-terminal transport links will be reinstated, should be announced by around August, and we’ll be sure to bring you the latest updates once we receive them.
(Cover Photo: SAA Architects)