Singapore

Terminal 4 off to good start

Changi Airport has opened a new passenger terminal, sending a strong signal to rival hubs that Singapore is prepared to invest to stay ahead in the aviation race.

After four years of construction and many months of testing, Terminal 4 (T4) was off to a good start on the first day of operations yesterday, although it handled only about 25 per cent to 30 per cent of its expected load.

The first flights in and out were operated by Cathay Pacific - CX659 from Hong Kong arrived at 5.27am while the return flight left at 6.50am.

FACIAL RECOGNITION

Departing passengers were the first to experience T4's start-to-end automated do-it-yourself processes - it uses facial recognition to ensure the same traveller moves from the first to last step - for check-in, bag tagging, immigration clearance and boarding.

Most breezed through the process, with some help from the staff.

Most travellers gave the new terminal and automated systems the thumbs up.

Madam Angela Tan, an information technology professional in her 40s, and her family, who were heading to Hong Kong for a week-long holiday, said of the immigration clearance and security systems: "It is definitely higher security, but it was not a hassle.

"The full-body scanning machines are quite cool, (it feels) like you are in a Mission: Impossible movie."

T4 is a key piece in Changi's plans to stay ahead of its rivals.

The full-body scanning machines are quite cool, (it feels) like you are in a Mission: Impossible movie. Madam Angela Tan, an information technology professional in her 40s, who was headed to Hong Kong

It will help the airport handle 16 million more passengers a year - a vital holding operation until the giant Terminal 5 comes online in the late 2020s. It is also a test bed for technology that will be used in T5.

To allow operations to stabilise, only Cathay Pacific and Korean Air moved to T4 on day one.

The other seven carriers to operate there will shift progressively, with the AirAsia group, comprising four carriers, the last to move next Tuesday.

By the end of yesterday, T4 had handled 19 arrivals and departures, and processed close to 4,200 passengers.

Canadian traveller Mohamad Hossenbux, 51, a managing director of an aerospace company, said: "The (aesthetics), in terms of the lighting and decor, is very subtle and pleasing...

"T4 is very impressive, and its world-class features will bring travellers back to Singapore."

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