Operating 24/7: The Airport That Never Sleeps

Did you know: Airport staff and partners work tirelessly round-the-clock to deliver a seamless Changi experience. Here’s how they do it.

December is traditionally the busiest month of the year for Changi Airport, with traffic peaking just before Christmas. Last year, Changi Airport handled more than 5.8 million passengers in December.

Most would notice the flurry of activity around the airport during the day. Yet unbeknown to many, staff and airport partners work tirelessly at all hours of the day to ensure every passenger that passes through Changi has a positively surprising and stress-free experience.

Watch the efforts that go on behind-the-scenes daily, at The Airport That Never Sleeps


Preparing for morning peak activity

Every day there are two peak periods at the airport, generally corresponding to road traffic activity. During these periods, Changi Airport Group (CAG) works closely with its partners to ensure that passengers have a smooth departure and arrival experience.

The morning peak starts from as early as 4.30am. Duty Terminal Managers (DTMs) make their rounds across the different touchpoints along a passenger’s departure and arrival journey, from check-in counters to immigration gates, to ensure all terminal operations are progressing smoothly.

Roadway sweepers are used to clean the parking bays and roadways at Changi Airport


As day breaks, the airside is prepared with cleaning of parking stands and roadways – especially important with the impending increase in traffic during the morning peak period. The cleaning is mainly done by Changi’s long-term contractor, Chye Thiam Maintenance (CTM). They manage the cleaning of the airside, landside, and cargo premises at Changi Airport, including areas such as parking bays, taxiways, and runways.

Later in the morning, the DTM on shift conducts a daily morning brief, which allows various airport partners to come together and discuss operational issues or things to look out for that day.

The DTM on shift gives a daily morning brief to discuss potential issues for the day


In between the peak action

After lunch, passenger activity starts to quieten down, and food and beverage operators at the airport begin their preparations for the evening peak. For Pezzo Group, this is when delivery of food and supplies takes place. Pezzo Group operates a new 24/7 dining concept comprising five casual dining brands, such as Crave and Stuff’d, all located in a dedicated area of the Terminal 2 Arrival Hall. To meet the demands of operating round-the-clock, staff make use of off-peak periods like these to do station cleaning, preparation of food, and delivery of food supplies.

Various airport stakeholders, such as the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore and retail operators, are also preparing to ensure there are sufficient manpower and resources to handle the additional inflow of evening traffic. 

At the taxi queues in the terminals, additional manpower will be deployed on the ground to facilitate passenger movement. In the event that queues build up due to taxi shortage nation-wide, ground staff will also actively advise passengers of other public transport options available at the airport. At Changi, the evening peak lasts till as late as 1am.

Working through the night

At night, the runway sweepers clear debris from the runway


As night falls and most people are preparing to head home, the engineers at Changi are just getting ready to use the quiet of night to prepare the runway for the next day’s operations. This takes place from midnight to 6am. Upon approval, the Airfield Ground Lighting team enters the runway to ensure the lighting systems along the runways and taxiways work smoothly. This involves inspecting runway and taxiway light fittings and checking aircraft pavement paint markings at taxiways and runways.

Once maintenance and inspection of the runway are completed, another team from CTM operates two sweepers to clear debris from the runway.

“We constantly adopt new innovations and practices in our work to deliver quality performance to our clients,” said Mr Lim Jo Hann, Senior Vice President of Operations at CTM.  “Given the operational complexity of the airport, this is no easy task. However, our team will continue to commit our best to keep the airport clean 24/7.”


Finally, as dawn breaks and passengers start their journeys, the cycle repeats. For the 50,000-strong airport community at Changi, this signifies the start of a new day and time to catch a break before they jump into the action all over again, at the airport that never sleeps.

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