Asia Minute: Singapore’s Airport Troubles

Oct 6, 2020

Leaders of one of the world’s most popular airports say the business is facing a “daunting” future. It’s an important transit hub in Asia, but as with airlines and airports around the world, it’s been hit hard by the coronavirus. 

For the eighth year in a row, Singapore’s Changi Airport has been voted the best in the world. That’s according to a UK consulting firm called Skytrax.

The airport is impressive, but so many of its highlights sounded a lot better in the days before the pandemic.

Like its two sit-down movie theaters. A rooftop jacuzzi and pool, where you can swim with strangers, just off flights from who knows where. Several indoor gyms – plus a spa center featuring massages and manicures and pedicures.

Changi was one of the first airports to put all those amenities together — while keeping a couple of bookstores with wide selections of regional fiction and histories and the requisite number of bars and restaurants.

But Singapore’s airport has closed half of its four terminals, and delayed construction on a fifth.

One relatively bright spot, revenue has increased for an airport attraction known as “Jewel” — a billion-dollar glass and steel structure featuring what airport officials call a rainforest, and the world’s largest indoor waterfall.

As for the future, the Changi Airport Group says in its annual financial report that recovery is “highly dependent on how countries around the world manage border controls, the relaxation of air travel requirements and the development of viable medical treatments for the virus.”