Terminal 2 at Singapore Changi Airport first scaled back its operations in January 2020, for a complete renovation to be conducted in phases, but the events of the COVID-19 pandemic overtook matters only three months later, with the facility then completely shuttered in May 2020, albeit temporarily.
The good news was that this full closure would accelerate the revamp, originally slated for completion in 2024, and indeed a relatively small southern section of the terminal has been operating again since May 2022, including a renovated check-in hall and arrivals area.
Good news is that the complete renovation of the terminal is well ahead of schedule, which will allow it to fully reopen in October 2023, plus another 65 weekly flights are being added later this month as Oneworld carrier Malaysia Airlines makes the move back to T2.
T2 will fully reopen in October
Some good news for Changi Airport’s capacity woes was revealed last week, with Singapore’s Transport Minister S Iswaran confirming that the northern wing of the facility will be back in action by October 2023, months ahead of the original schedule.
If you’ve flown through Singapore Changi Airport’s T1 or T3 lately you’ll probably realise there’s a big ‘achilles heal’ to the passenger experience during the COVID-19 recovery, and that’s the lack of passenger capacity due to Terminal 2 still remaining largely closed for renovation works.
With Changi Airport’s passenger numbers now in excess of 82% of pre-COVID levels, it’s frankly no surprise that T2’s current southern section operation simply isn’t enough to relieve the strain now being seen, so it’s great to see that completion is being accelerated.
Taking 10th May 2023 as an example, 57 arriving passenger flights were processed through the reopened southern section of T2, with a total seating capacity of 13,269, while 62 departing flights had 13,849 seats, for a total of 27,118 capacity that day.
Multiplied out, that’s equivalent to only 10 million passengers a year, less than half the terminal’s pre-COVID capacity and only around a third of its future capacity come full reopening around five months from now.
The issue has made the airport’s two primary terminals resemble something of a zoo lately – even with home base carrier Jetstar forced over to T4 from T1 since March this year.
As you probably know, Changi T2 is currently in the process of receiving a full makeover with a brand new design, which we’ve already seen taking shape in the southern arrivals and departures area.
There are more of the latest design features like this in the reopened departures hall, which CAG says boasts a “contemporary design concept… inspired by elements of nature”.
Future enhancements in the transit area include new dining concepts in a larger space, with better views of the runway.
Once the northern wing of Terminal 2 is reopened in October 2023, the facility will be the airport’s largest, with a capacity for 28 million passengers per year, 5 million more than pre-renovation.
|Passenger Capacity of Changi’s Terminals
(2020 – 2024)
A significant 15,500 square metres will be added to the terminal’s original floor space, and once completed the project will boost Changi’s annual passenger capacity to 90 million.
This will secure the airport’s passenger capacity through to the opening of Terminal 5 in the mid-2030s.
Indeed parts of the northern wing already began to reopen in late March 2023, with three ‘E’ gates on the north east pier – E1, E2 and E3 – now also in regular use alongside the ‘F’ gates.
You can find out more about Terminal 2’s facilities, including current shopping and dining options, at CAG’s dedicated page here.
Which airlines are now using T2?
As of 12th May 2023, 10 airlines are using Terminal 2, listed below in order of commencing operations at the reopened terminal following it’s temporary COVID-19 closure.
All Changi Airport T2 Airlines
(as of May 2023)
Only South East Asia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka departures
|13 October 2022||352|
|18 October 2022||28|
|Air India Express
|Royal Brunei Airlines
|6 February 2023||8|
|9 February 2023||13|
|Swiss International Air Lines
|17 February 2023||7|
|23 March 2023||3|
|26 March 2023||8|
|From 23 May 2023||65|
* Post T2’s COVID closure
Malaysia Airlines is moving back on 23rd May
As you can see from the table above, Changi Airport has also confirmed that Oneworld carrier Malaysia Airlines will relocate back to its pre-COVID Terminal 2 home from 23rd May 2023. The airline has been operating at Changi’s Terminal 1 since 1st May 2020.
The carrier currently operates 59 weekly flights to and from Kuala Lumpur and 6 weekly flights to and from Kuching, for a total of 65 weekly services in and out of Changi.
That will make this the largest single move to T2 in terms of flight volumes since SIA transferred its South East Asia flights across last year, with MH’s relocation shifting up to 20,800 weekly passenger movements from T1 to the facility.
The airline will join its low-cost subsidiary Firefly at T2, with the latter operating 14 times weekly Penang flights to and from Changi, though remember its turboprop services to and from Kuala Lumpur Subang Airport still fly in and out of Seletar Airport.
In total, T2 will handle 515 passenger flight departures per week (an average of over 70 per day), based on late May 2023 flight schedules, once Malaysia Airlines returns to the fold.
Bad news for Oneworld lounge use
Malaysia Airlines’ return to Terminal 2 later this month is bad news if you’re a fan of using the excellent Oneworld lounges at Changi Airport Terminal 1, including the Qantas, BA and Qatar facilities, based on travel class or (where applicable) frequent flyer status.
That’s because Malaysia Airlines will be directing its lounge-eligible passengers to the SATS Premier Lounge in T2, which is also available to those seeking access via a lounge membership scheme like Priority Pass (here’s a review from December 2017). It’s… pretty ordinary!
The good news is the transit SkyTrain between T2 (E gates) and T1 (D gates) is now up and running again, so you’ll only need to build in an extra 10 to 15 minutes or so in each direction to use a T1 Oneworld lounge, subject to their opening hours coinciding with your MH flight departure.
Previously, a convoluted routing via T3 involving two SkyTrain rides was required!
- British Airways Lounge: 4pm – 10pm
- Qatar Airways Lounge: 8pm – 3am
- Qantas Business Lounge: 3pm – midnight
- Qantas First Lounge: 3pm – midnight
Hopefully the Qatar Airways lounge will also restore its former morning opening window soon, but remember this one only permits those departing in Business Class on a Oneworld airline (like Malaysia Airlines), and does not allow access based on status alone.
Malaysia Airlines will continue to be part of the Jewel Early Check-In facility between 12pm and 8pm each day, for those checking in at least three hours before departure time, which then provides even easier access to the Oneworld lounges via the Terminal 1 departure immigration route.
Nonetheless, it’s still an extra 10 to 15 minutes to T2 via the SkyTrain once it comes time to board, plus walking time in T2 itself.
Do note that it is still not possible to walk between T1 and T2 – the transit SkyTrain is the only option, due to ongoing construction work.
Who still needs to move back?
Once Terminal 2 fully reopens by October 2023, we expect all airlines operating at the facility prior to COVID-19 will probably make the move back progressively.
That means the following airlines can also be expected to relocate to T2 later this year, but at the time of writing are still using either T1 or T3 as their temporary home at Changi.
- ANA (T1)
- Etihad Airways (T3)
- Indigo (T1)
- LOT Polish (not currently operating at Changi)
- United Airlines (T3)
SIA flights can arrive at T1, T2 or T3
It’s important to bear in mind that Singapore Airlines still uses all three of Changi Airport’s main terminals to process arriving flights and passengers, regardless of their origin country, for operational reasons which may include the aircraft’s planned subsequent destination.
T2 is only dedicated for the carrier’s departures to South East Asian cities, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
For example, a flight from Sydney, Adelaide or Tokyo might arrive into T2, usually because the same aircraft will be used to fly to a T2 destination on its next service.
A flight from Bali or Jakarta, on the other hand, could arrive in T1 or T3 for the same reason.
Arrival terminal information is usually available via SIA’s flight status update within around 6 hours of the scheduled arrival time, but do remember to subscribe to the particular flight of interest, since its arrival terminal can also change in the meantime.
The flip boards will not return, but you can still see one
As we reported last month, one of the decommissioned and highly iconic ‘Solari boards’ from Changi Airport’s T2 check-in hall will be on display at an upcoming National Museum exhibition, starting later this month.
This is the middle panel of the trio of displays that were formerly located between check-in rows 9 and 10, but sadly the two other sections of that board and the second ‘Solari’ board formerly located between rows 3 and 4 have been disposed of.
SIA T2 Lounges
We have recent reviews of the refreshed T2 KrisFlyer Gold and SilverKris Business Class lounges, with some minor enhancements but more or less retaining the same format and design they had pre-pandemic.
New (or at least renovated) SilverKris and KrisFlyer Gold lounges were supposedly part of the T2 renovation plan pre-COVID according to our sources, so we can only hope SIA is sticking with this plan and has something up its sleeve to replace or update these facilities – since they seriously won’t last another 10 years until T5 opens, in their current form.
Alternatively, there’s always the option to hop on the SkyTrain and take a 10-minute journey across to the newer SIA lounge facilities in T3, if you wish.
You can also check-in for any SIA flight at T2 or T3, regardless of your departure terminal.
Singapore Changi Airport will be fully reopening Terminal 2 by October 2023, as the northern wing renovations are set to be completed many months ahead of schedule.
This will boost the airport’s capacity to 90 million passengers annually, a total that will see it though to the opening of the behemoth Terminal 5 in the mid-2030s.
That’s great news for crowding at Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 in particular, which are definitely showing the strain of the buoyant COVID-19 recovery, based on our recent trips.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines will return to Terminal 2 from 23rd May 2023, making visits to the excellent Oneworld lounges in Terminal 1 a little more tricky, but thankfully now easier than before with a reopening of the T2 > T1 transit SkyTrain service.
(Cover Image: Changi Airport Group)