Changi Airport: 11 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About This Gem of S’pore


Singapore’s Changi Airport is our biggest source of pride as it is once again voted as the Best Airport in the World in 2017. Definitely the gem of Singapore, it offers amazing free things for all tourists and travellers within its transit areas. Great shopping and dining options are also available for those who are literally “grounded”.

Nonetheless, how much do you know about Changi? Now that T4 is open, let us share some interesting nuggets about this gem of ours.

The idea for Changi was first conceptualised in 1975
In the early days of air travel, Singapore’s only airport is the Paya Lebar Airport, where basic functions and amenities were offered. If you remember the budget terminal, imagine Paya Lebar Airport as something more basic than that!

In 1975, Paya Lebar Airport reached its maximum capacity and the decision was made to move the airport to Changi, where it has room for expansion and is far away from the city centre. 1975 marked the start of the development of Changi Airport. It cost $1 billion and was the single largest public project at that time.

Construction of Changi Airport Phase 1 commenced in 1977
In order to build Changi Airport, we need to reclaim land. It took two years for reclamation and earthworks to complete; thus, the construction of Changi Airport began only in 1977. The foundation was completed in 1979.

Changi Airport Terminal 1 was officially operational on 1 July 1981
The day had finally arrived and the airport moved from Paya Lebar to Changi on 29 and 30 June 1981. Changi Airport then began official operations on 1 July 1981. The first flight to arrive at the new airport is SQ101 – a SIA flight from KL carrying 140 passengers. The first departing flight is SQ192 – another SIA flight bound for Penang.

Changi Airport was one of the first few airports in the world to introduce the aerobridge
There are some countries which require passengers to walk down a wobbly flight of stairs that is loosely connected to the aircraft after landing. Changi Airport changed that model of operation by introducing the aerobridge, the sheltered walkway that links us from the terminal building to the aircraft and back; the one thing which all of us Singaporeans take for granted today.

Changi Airport built its second terminal in 5 years
Changi Airport surpassed 10 million visitors, and that marked the commencement of the building of Terminal 2. In 1986, development for Terminal 2 began in earnest as Terminal 1 is no longer able to serve all its visitors

Changi Airport received its first “Best Airport” award in 1988
Can you imagine the elation of receiving the award of being the “number 1 best airport in the world”? For such a small nation-state like Singapore, this is a great achievement and one which we should really be proud of.

Changi Airport Terminal 2 and the SkyTrain opened in 1991
Terminal 2 was officially opened in 1991, 10 years after Changi Airport was officially opened. Our then Prime Minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong, officially opens Terminal 2. With the opening of a new terminal, a quick and easy mode of transport must be provided to connect passengers and visitors from T1 to T2 seamlessly. The SkyTrain was introduced in order to create that seamless connection. As a kid, I love to take the SkyTrain from T1 to T2 and then back to T1 again. Sometimes, my friends and I will stay in the train until someone chased us out!

Princess Diana visited Changi Airport in 1993
The late Princess Diana visited Singapore and toured Changi Airport in 1993. Changi was awarded the 6th “Best Airport” award by the Business Traveller UK Award and Princess Diana personally presented the award to our Permanent Secretary (Transport) Mr Tjong Yik Min.


Changi Airport won the Skytrax World Airport Awards “Airport of the Year” title
In 2006, Changi Airport was awarded the “Airport of the Year” title by Skytrax for the first time ever. It was made even more joyous as it coincided with Changi Airport’s 25th anniversary.

Changi Airport Terminal 3 opened in 2008
Terminal 3 was opened with great fanfare and drum rolls. It housed superb shopping and dining options outside the transit areas and amazing free activities beyond the transit gates. The world’s first Butterfly Garden in an Airport was also opened, housing more than 1000 free-roaming butterflies.

Changi Airport wins Skytrax’s award for 5 consecutive years
There are a lot more than we could share, but let us end on this high note. Changi Airport win Skytrax’s World’s Best Airport for 5 consecutive years – from 2013 to 2017! It is certainly something to boast about to our friends from overseas and let’s hope that our beloved airport will continue to clinch this award for many more years to come.

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