SINGAPORE: Observers believe the new Terminal 5 at Changi Airport will most likely be the airport's biggest terminal, with the capacity to handle between 30 and 50 million passengers a year.
And they expect the new terminal to contribute to a more seamless travel experience for passengers.
With four terminals by 2017, Changi Airport will be able to cater to more than 85 million passengers every year.
But another passenger terminal could be built at a site in Changi East to cater to more demand.
The area is located between the existing runway two and runway three which is being planned for co-civilian use from 2020. To make way for this, it's understood that the existing Changi Coast Road will have to go or be diverted.
Given the large space, observers believe Terminal 5, slated to be ready by next decade, could have about twice the handling capacity of the current Terminal 2, which can handle about 23 million passengers a year. The new terminal will also help boost Singapore's competitive edge.
Mr Gary Ho, senior lecturer of Aviation Management and Services at Temasek Polytechnic, said: "The trend now in the world is to have mega terminals. If you look at our airport, it's old fashioned - one small terminal. If you look at the new airports like Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong they all have big mega terminals now, so our new T5 will be a mega-terminal. It would make sense to finally have a mega-terminal and for Singapore Airlines to finally be in one terminal instead of across two terminals."
With the national carrier at Terminal 5, each alliance of airlines such as Sky Team or One World could also operate out of dedicated terminals.
If so, aviation experts say this will contribute to a more seamless travel experience.
Mr Leithen Francis, Asia editor of Aviation Week, said: "Going forward, I think if we got more terminals, we are going to see Sky Team at one terminal, One World at another and Star Alliance at another. We are not going to have a situation which we see at the moment where some Star Alliance carriers are at Terminal 2 and some at Terminal 1, and some at Terminal 3, and they kind of spread around.
"Because there are going to be so many terminals, it is conceivable that each alliance will be able to get their own terminals, in which case the members of that alliance will be able to have their gates near one another. They will be able to have their lounges near one another so that the passengers will have a much more seamless experience when you fly in on one airline and you transfer to another, which is part of the same alliance. It will be seamless, it will be quick and it will be easy."
Terminal 5 is also expected to have more self-service facilities and bigger lounges.
Mr Francis added: "One big trend of course is - terminals are becoming more lifestyle destinations. There's a lot more retail, dining options at airport terminals, so Terminal 5 will be able to take all those trends into account.
"It helps with Changi Airport's efforts to compete, because if people know that their experience at Changi Airport is going to be a better experience than in any other airports than if they want to transit, then they will prefer to transit through Changi."
Observers say it may also be necessary to have a Skytrain to transit passengers to and from Terminal 5.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew has said that rising middle income groups in India and China mean that these countries will be markets of importance in the coming years.
And within Southeast Asia, the dynamic economies of Thailand and Indonesia are also driving sustained growth in travel demand, and he said Changi Airport should be well-poised to benefit from growth in these markets. - CNA/de
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