There’s news this week from Jetstar and the Changi Airport Group (CAG) regarding the contentious issue of the carrier’s proposed move to Terminal 4 this month, with confirmation that the shift will not take place as first announced by the airport operator back in July.
Both Jetstar and CAG have now concluded “a joint study on the airline’s operations at the airport”, but have yet to finalise an agreement, according to Channel News Asia.
While this doesn’t rule out any future terminal move, it means that for now passengers departing on Jetstar flights from Changi Airport will continue to check in and be processed through Terminal 1, where the airline benefits from connectivity with several partner airlines including Qantas and Emirates.
Jetstar’s spat with CAG
On 22nd July this year, CAG confirmed that Terminal 4 would reopen on 13th September, but perhaps the most surprising part of the announcement was that long-time Terminal 1 tenant Jetstar would also be moving to the reopened facility, from late October 2022.
That news seemed to come as a surprise to Jetstar itself!
The Jetstar Group, which at Changi includes operators Jetstar Australia (JQ) and locally-based Jetstar Asia (3K) released a swift rebuke just an hour later, to what it labelled a “disappointing” announcement by CAG, saying the decision was “unilateral” and telling the airport it had “no intention” of moving to T4.
CAG later released a media statement saying that Jetstar had been aware of plans to move its operations to T4, even before COVID-19, but it was clear this was set to become a spicy squabble to watch with interest!
Since then even politicians have weighed in, with Singapore Transport Minister S. Iswaran saying in late August that it was “important to do this well rather than do this fast”, when quizzed on the timeline of the proposed move.
Connectivity is the problem for Jetstar
Terminal 4 first opened in October 2017, with capacity for 16 million passengers per year. Replacing the former Budget Terminal, it is now home to a mix of low-cost and full-service carriers, but is not physically connected to Changi’s main T1/2/3 complex.
T4’s physical separation from Changi’s other terminals makes it well-suited to airlines operating point-to-point services with few connecting passengers, but it doesn’t work so well for Jetstar’s model, which relies on transit travellers.
Instead of landside and airside SkyTrain connections, T4 is linked to the other terminals by shuttle buses, running at the following frequencies:
- Landside 6am – Midnight: Every 6-13 mins
- Landside Midnight – 6am: Every 31 mins
- Airside 24 hours: Every 10-13 mins
Jetstar depends heavily on connecting traffic at Changi to and from its own services, those of Qantas and Emirates, plus several codeshare and interline partners including Finnair, British Airways, Air France, KLM and Qatar Airways.
Prior to COVID-19, a third of Jetstar Asia’s passenger traffic was comprised of transit passengers, around the same proportion Singapore Airlines carries through Changi.
For T1-T1 connections, like Qantas to/from Jetstar Asia, itineraries with a Minimum Connection Time (MCT) of only 1 hour are currently sold to passengers.
The standard MCT for T1 to T4 transfers is published as 1 hour 30 minutes, which will make some connections impossible without flights needing to be re-timed.
Jetstar’s 20 partners at Changi
Jetstar has six codeshare partners and a further 14 interline partners at Changi, whose passengers begin or end their journey using one of the carrier’s flights, with Singapore acting as a ‘transit hub’ in the middle.
For codeshares, the flights carry the same IATA code as the validating carrier selling the ticket (e.g. Qantas, Emirates or KLM), but are actually operated by Jetstar or Jetstar Asia.
This allows airlines like KLM to publish and market flights to and from certain destinations (e.g. Surabaya) as part of their own schedule with their own flight number, even though one or more flight segments is operated by the codeshare partner (e.g. KL4867 from Surabaya to Singapore is actually operated by Jetstar Asia as 3K248).
On the interline side, this is where flights from different carrier codes (e.g. BA and 3K) are mixed in a single PNR itinerary (booking reference). Baggage is checked from the origin point to the final destination, with all boarding cards also typically issued at the origin airport.
As with codeshares, in interline agreements airlines also provide free rebooking in the event of missed connections, protecting the itinerary for travellers in the event of delays.
|Swiss International Air Lines