A History of Firsts
The first passenger flight at Paya Lebar
28th October 1959 - Qantas' Boeing 707 jetliner touched down at Paya Lebar Airport (PLA) on its inaugural Kangaroo Route flight from Sydney to London.
Early beginnings at Paya Lebar Airport
PLA handled more than 300,000 passengers and 30,000 aircraft movements. It was served by 11 airlines operating 125 weekly flights. Visitor arrivals hit 0.1 million.
Over the next two years, Singapore extended its runway from 2.4km to 2.7km, making it one of the longest runways in Asia then.
Early days of air travel
1st April 1967 - BOAC's Super VC-10, the fastest and most powerful civil jet aircraft of its day, made its inaugural landing at PLA.
With basic airport functions and amenities at PLA, travellers had to walk up and down mobile steps to embark and disembark from aircraft.
Advancements in aviation
The 1970s saw great advancements in aviation which resulted in rapidly growing passenger numbers. From 1970 to 1975, passenger traffic grew almost four-fold from 1.7 million to 4 million passenger movements a year.
The first Concorde Supersonic aircraft, flown from London by British Airways, landed at Paya Lebar Airport.
Expand or move?
With Paya Lebar Airport at maximum capacity and situated near housing estates, the decision was made to move the airport to Changi, where there was ample space for expansion in the future, away from residential areas.
1975 marked the start of Changi Airport's Phase 1 developments. Costing $1 billion, this was the single biggest public project at that time.
Laying the ground
Reclamation and earthworks at Changi, which took two years were completed.
Actual construction of Changi Airport then commenced.
Laying a solid foundation for travel
The foundation stone of the Terminal 1 superstructure was laid.
At the same time, on 14 July 1979 - SIA and the Civil Aviation Administration of China(CAAC) signed an agreement to establish airlinks between the two countries, allowing each airline to operate three flights a week.
The start of firsts
Even though Changi Airport only officially commenced operations in 1981, they started a series of firsts in the world.
We were first to introduce the concept of airport gardens, the first to allow passengers to make free local telephone calls in transit and more.
As an improvement from PLA, passengers were provided with a completely air-conditioned experience from disembarkation to their taxis as the taxi queues were located indoors.
Start of a new beginning
29 / 30 June - The airport moved from Paya Lebar , to its new premises at Changi.
1 July - Changi Airport Terminal 1 became officially operational with the arrival of its first fight - SQ101, carrying 140 passengers from KL - at 7am on 1st July. The first departing flight, SQ192, flew off for Penang at 8am on the same day. Changi was among the first few airports to introduce the aerobridge, a sheltered walkway to link passengers directly from the aircraft to the terminal building.
Mid July - The first two weeks of operations saw 250,000 visitors, where every tenth person in Singapore came. Paid tours to the restricted area after immigration were conducted at $0.50 per head.
Building Terminal 2
Construction works for Terminal 2 in progress.
Changi surpasses its 10 million passenger mark.
First 'Best Airport' award
Changi Airport received its first Best Airport Award from Business Traveller UK.
It was also the first year that a quality service management programme was also established to enhance service standards at Changi Airport.
SIA first to operate B747-400
SIA became the first airline to operate a B747-400 on a commercial flight across the Pacific.
Stringent on quality
Changi was served by 52 airlines operating 1,900 weekly flights to 111 citities in 52 countries.
Visitor arrivals hit 5.3 million.
Terminal 2 opens
Terminal 2 officially opens and the Changi skytrain was introduced to facilitiate passenger movements between the two terminals.
Princess Diana visits Singapore
The late Princess Diana presented the 1993 Business Traveller UK Award to Singapore's Permanent Secretary (Transport) Mr Tjong Yik Min.
Rooftop swimming pool
Changi Airport was the first airport in the world to introduce a rooftop swimming pool within the transit area.
Three important milestones were reached in 1997;
Singapore became the first country in Asia to conclude an Open Skies agreement with the United States of America (USA).
Changi Aiport surpasses the 20 million passenger mark.
Changi Airport celebrates 10 consecutive years of recognition as the 'Best Airport in the Wolrd" by Business Traveller UK.
New facilities for passengers in transit
Thematic lounges such as News Hub, Sports Arena, and Movie Theatre for passengers were introduced for passengers to enjoy Changi while in transit.
New millenia of technology
With the dawn of the new millenium, Changi Airport introduced facilities and services catering to a new generation of technology-connected travellers.
Changi Airport was served by 64 airlines operating 3,400 weekly flights to 145 cities in 50 countries.
October 2000 - Construction of Terminal 3 commenced.
"What's Your Range?"
Changi Airport organised the world's first airport gameshow, "What's Your Range?" in conjunction with the World Cup.
Broadband Internet Access was consolidated at Changi Airport's E-Hub and by 2004, there were 200 Internet terminals available throughout the airport - a record for any airport worldwide.
Changi MRT opens
SMRT officially opens the Changi Airport MRT station - connecting Changi Airport to the Tanah Merah on the East-West (EW) line, bringing another option of commute to the airport.
To facilitate the travel process, flight alerts were also made available to passengers via SMS and flight information was accessible on mobile devices in 2002.
Spiderman and automated check-in systems
'Spiderman' climbs down Changi's 80-metre high Control tower in conjunction with the release of Spiderman movie in Singapore.
In 2004, a six-month trial of the world's first automated check-in system that integrated the check-in and immigration processes for departing travellers was carried out.
Skytrax, upgrading T2 and Budget Terminal
Changi Airport wins the Skytrax World Airport Awards' 'Airport of the Year title for the first time to great jubilation.
Terminal 2 also completes a S$240 million upgrading project to revamp its facilities and operational systems
26th March - Budget Terminal was opened.
1st July - Changi Airport celebrates its 25th anniversary.
SIA's Airbus A380 in Changi
October 2007 - Changi Airport was the first airport to welcome the Airbus A380.
SIA became the world's first airline to fly the A380 between Singapore and Sydney.
Terminal 3 opens
With the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route fully liberalised, Singapore and Malaysian Carriers were allowed to operate unlimited frequencies between the two capitals.
May - Costing S$500 million, extensive refurbishments to Terminal 1's interior was carried out in phases.
1st July - T3 opens and features a unique Butterfly roof not purely for design, but also allows for optimal sunlight into the terminal building.
A world's first, the Butterfly Garden in Terminal 3 was opened. It was designed as a tropical nature retrat and home to more than 1,000 free-roaming butterflies.
Changi Airport corporatises
1st July 2009 - Changi Airport is corporatised and forms Changi Airport Group to manage Changi Airport, taking over the reins from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).
Soaring to greater heights
2010 - Changi Airport surpassed the 40 million passenger mark. Intra-regional connectivity in ASEAN was fully established with the commencement of thrice-weekly services between Singapore and Vientiane. Singapore was now connected via direct flights to all nine other ASEAN countries.
The retail promotion, Be A Changi Millionaire, was launched. This promotion offered the largest cash prize in Singapore.
May 2010 - Singapore's tallest slide at 10 metres, Slide @ T3 was introduced
Improving the retail experience
2011 - The Changi Rewards card programme was introduced to encourage retail and dining spend at the airport.
Changi Airport introduced Changi Experience Agents (CEAs) , deploying roving customer service officers across the airport to help visitors and passengers.
March 2011 - With the launch of SIA flights to Sao Paolo, Changi Airport is now directly connected to Brazil.
Upgrading T1 and iChangi mobile app
2012 -After almost 2 years of operations, the Budget Terminal was closed to make way for Terminal 4.
June 2012 - Terminal 1's upgrading works were completed. Kinetic Rain, the world's largest kinetic sculpture, was unveiled in the Departure Hall.
With the proliferation of mobile technology, the iChangi HD app was launched to provide passengers with real-time access to flight details, terminal maps, and information about airport offerings.
Changi Airport received its 25th consecutive Best Airport Award, from Business Traveller UK.
New development plans and E-commerce
2013 - plans for development of Jewel Changi Airport, Changi East, Three-runway system, and Terminal 5 were announced.
A new online shopping portal, iShopChangi, was introduced to offer passengers greater convenience, comfort, and value.
November 2013 - Construction of Terminal 4 commenced.
Jewel construction in progress
December 2014 - Construction of Jewel Changi Airport commenced.
The Fast and Seamless Travel at Changi (FAST@Changi) programme was launched to promote and introduce seamless connectivity for travellers. It will be implemented in phases across the airport, including the new Terminal 4.
Skytrax for the sixth time
March 2015 - Changi Airport once again receives Skytrax's World's Best Airport Award of the Year, making it the 3rd consecutive year the award was brought home since 2013. It is also Changi's sixth time wining this outstanding recognition.
June 2015 - Changi Airport is the world's most awarded airport with over 480 best airport awards won since its opening in 1981.
A Bright Future
Future of Changi
Today, Singapore is an iconic stop on the world map for travellers who recognise Changi Airport for its unique and unrivalled airport experiences, which have become synonymous with global connectivity, clockwork efficiency and exceptional service offerings that are one-of-a-kind.
Tomorrow, Changi continues to evolve ahead of the growing volume and increasingly sophisticated needs of passengers to set new standards for excellence with creative solutions and signature experiences that will redefine air travel for generations to come.
Target date of completion: 2017
What to look out for:
- Full suite of self-service check in options for fast and seamless travel
- A new walk-through concept dedicated to retail and dining in the departure immigration area.
- 200 metre Central Galleria provides visual connectivity across the Check-in Hall, Transit Lounge and Arrival Baggage Claim Hall.
News & Updates
Jewel Changi Airport
Target date of completion: 2018
What to look out for:
- Unique leisure attractions including a lush indoor garden with a central waterfall of about 40 metres in height
- A wide range of retail and dining offerings
- Facilities dedicated to fly-cruise and fly-coach passengers providing more options for seamless connectivity
News & Updates
Target date of completion: Second-half of 2020s
What to look out for:
- New mega terminal and one of the world's largest, Terminal 5 will be linked to Changi's existing terminals
- The implementation of a three-runway system to handle larger passenger aircraft, together with 40 kilometres of new taxiways that will connect Runway 3 to the current airfield
Investing in Airports Worldwide
Changi Airports International
The Group recognises airports as a vital part of a country’s transport infrastructure on which its economy, trade and business depend. Changi Airports International (CAI) is the wholly-owned subsidiary of the Group that invests and manages airports globally. Our expertise is solidly based on the Changi Experience of running an airport—consistently acknowledged as one of the best in the world. Now, backed by years of airport management and development experience, we are proud to have a part in elevating standards of airports everywhere.
Creating world-class airports
Against the fast-changing landscape of the aviation industry, airports need to provide an experience beyond operational efficiency to remain competitive and profitable. CAI's broad range of business activities includes investment in foreign airports, provision of consultancy services and provision of airport management services.
Height of Airport control tower
Social media channels we're connected on
Hectares of total land area
Online e-commerce for you to buy before you fly
Recycling bins around the airport
Donation Boxes around the airport