Profiling the world’s top ten airports

Changi Airport


2017 international pax

61.6 million

2016 rank



Even as Singapore Changi Airport opened its spectacular new Terminal 4 last October, management was already looking ahead – perhaps even a decade or more – to the next stage of expansion and Terminal 5. That’s a sign of the long-term thinking that prevails at the world’s
sixth largest airport measured by international passenger traffic.

In 2017, concession sales (+7.6% year-on-year) outstripped growth in traffic (+5.9%), with the former hitting S$2.5 billion (US$1.9 billion), a new record. Of the 62 million travellers using the airport, those from China, Singapore, Indonesia, India and the UK were the highest spending shoppers, with Chinese and Singaporeans accounting for more than half of total sales. Fragrances & cosmetics and liquor & tobacco were the most popular product categories, followed by luxury goods, electronics and confectionery.

As at other major airports, digitalisation is beginning to exert a profound influence on how commercial management thinks about the shopping offer. Sales from Changi Airport’s online duty free platform iShopChangi soared by +60% year-on-year. The airport also recently introduced a home delivery service for Singaporean passengers via its online sales channel.

2017 was also notable for several exciting retail initiatives led by the new Terminal 4. It features a strong consumer and commercial offer, a lovely Sense of Place and innovative use of technology.

T4 is “a shopping and dining haven,” CAG noted, with more than 80 retail and F&B outlets, 57 of them airside. New retail brands for Changi Airport include Adidas, Airport Pharmacy (an Adelaide-based airport specialist in this category), WHSmith (which made its return to Changi after many years), Moleskine, Pazzion and Zakkasg while new F&B brands include the Tiger Den bar and Chinese restaurant Treasures (Yi Dian Xin) by Imperial Treasure.

In a first for Changi, an integrated duty free zone featuring DFS’s liquor & tobacco offer and The Shilla Duty Free’s perfumes & cosmetics range allows shoppers to pay for their purchases at common cashier counters.

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Singapore Changi fact file

International passenger traffic 2017: 61.6 million (+5.9%)

Retail and F&B sales 2017: US$1.9 billion (+7.6%)

Transactions: 57 million (158,000 per day)

iShop Changi sales growth year-on-year: +60%

Highest spending passenger nationalities: China, Singapore, Indonesia, India, UK

Top ten routes for passenger traffic 2017: Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Manila, Tokyo, Bali, Ho Chi Minh City, Taipei, Sydney

Fastest growing passenger route (among top 20): Guangzhou (+15%)

Source: Changi Airport Group

Other highlights include the opening of a series of 11m high stores representing The Cocoa Trees, Gassan, Furla, Coach, Michael Kors, Charles & Keith and Singaporean tea brand TWG.

Later in the passenger journey, a striking Heritage Zone is designed to echo the architecture of shophouse facades, providing passengers with a glimpse of Singapore’s cultural heritage. The zone houses a range of traditional retail and dining offerings, including local brands Bee Cheng Hiang, Bengawan Solo, Curry Times, Eu Yan Sang and Heavenly Wang.

With the new T4, handling capacity at Changi Airport was raised to 82 million passengers a year. But other projects have also lifted the consumer and commercial offer.

Sense of Singapore: The Heritage Zone is a highlight of the striking T4 environment

In the past year the airport has welcomed its largest landside and multi-brand restaurant, SORA, as well as a world-first Louis Vuitton duplex store in an airport in Terminal 3. T3 is now home to a refurbished Central Piazza that houses the airport’s latest feature garden – the Crystal Garden – with its eye-catching glass dandelion sculptures.

Other big developments and investments are on the way. In T3, Changi Airport Group is seeking retail and brand partners for 11 luxury brand name concessions, amid a leasing drive across speciality retail and dining.

And further projects promise more dynamism and excitement. The magnificent Jewel Changi Airport complex is scheduled to open in 2019, encompassing a hugely ambitious mixed-use complex. It will include a five-storey indoor garden, play attractions, shopping and dining options, a hotel, and facilities for airport operations.

Beyond that will come Terminal 5, as noted above. That project will provide Changi Airport with additional capacity of up to 50 million passengers a year in its initial phase and 100 more aircraft stands. T4 stands as a template for what is possible in terms of blending Sense of Place and digitalisation. T5, when it opens, will be a single integrated terminal that will “take the travel experience of passengers to new levels”.

The Moodie Davitt Report • The Online Magazine • September 2018