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Travel & Holiday

Budget Terminal closes its doors

Carriers settle in at T2, with facilities expanded to handle more passengers.
The Straits Times - September 25, 2012
By: Karamjit Kaur And Royston Sim
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Budget Terminal closes its doors Mr Chesterwin Ibarra (left), 32, and his wife Coleen Muhi (centre), 28, checking in last night for Cebu Pacific Flight 5J804 to Manila, the last flight out of the Budget Terminal. Speaking with them is Mr Kirk Chua (right), one of Changi Airport Group's

SIX years after it opened, Changi Airport's Budget Terminal handled its last flight early this morning.

Tiger Airways' TR2727 from Manila landed at about 2am with more than 100 passengers and crew on board. With that, the shutters came down on the facility which launched its operations in March 2006 to cater to the needs of the region's fast-growing budget carriers.

It will be demolished to make way for a new and bigger Terminal 4, which will be ready by 2017.

From today, access will be restricted to workers helping with the removal of stock and equipment, as well as security personnel. In a few weeks, hoardings will be put up. Airlines that were housed at the Budget Terminal - Tiger Airways, Mandala Airlines, Berjaya Air, Cebu Pacific, Firefly and South East Asian Airlines - have moved to Terminal 2.

At T2, passengers will have more shopping and dining options, as well as direct access to the MRT network and an internal rail system that links the three main terminals. Before, they had to take a shuttle service to get from the Budget Terminal to the main terminals.

The better facilities mean they pay a departure tax of $28, compared to $18 at the Budget Terminal.

Over at T2, the budget carriers were nicely settled at check-in rows 10-12 when reporters visited late last night.

But there was some confusion at the Budget Terminal when some travellers on the Cebu Pacific flight to Manila - the last outbound flight from the terminal - ended up at T2. The airline had wrongly listed T2 as the departure terminal.

With the move, T2, which handled 13 million passengers last year, will see total traffic swell to more than 18 million. To make room for extra passengers, more automatic passport lanes have been built. The taxi waiting area at the arrival hall has also been expanded and more taxi bays built - there are now 15, up from 12.

This will mean shorter queues, said Changi Airport Group spokesman Ivan Tan.

Despite the improvements, some travellers have raised concerns of possible congestion. But Mr Tan pointed out that in 2007, the terminal handled 21.6 million passengers. This was before Terminal 3 opened the following year.

The decision to close the Budget Terminal and build a new facility is not just for expansion purposes. From the day the $45 million facility opened, travellers have complained of a lack of facilities, including not enough chairs or shops. Terminal 4 will have better facilities, Changi Airport has said. One thing will not change though: There will be no aerobridges. Travellers will still have to walk to aircraft and use mobile stairs to board.

Still, some said they have fond memories of the terminal. Manila-based telecommunications engineer Roberto Burchi, 42, who has used the Budget Terminal about twice a year since 2008, said: "I will miss the terminal. It is familiar, and I have gotten used to it. I will have to adjust to the new one next time."

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