New Singapore terminal to bolster air hub status: analysts

SINGAPORE, Jan 6, 2008 (AFP) – Singapore will Wednesday open an ultra-modern new 1.2-billion-dollar airport terminal that industry analysts say will reinforce the city-state’s position as a regional aviation hub. Terminal 3, which boasts a five-storey vertical garden with waterfalls, will receive its first passengers just months after a new terminal opened in Hong Kong and more than a year after Bangkok’s new airport began operating.

Aviation industry competition is intensifying in a region where airline passenger growth is projected to increase faster than the global average.

Analysts say the new terminal will boost the appeal of Singapore’s Changi Airport — particularly compared with its key challenger in Bangkok, which has been plagued with problems since opening in 2006.

“It will push Singapore further ahead of its rivals,” said Shukor Yusof, of Standard and Poor’s Equity Research.

Built at a cost of 1.75 billion Singapore dollars (1.22 billion US), Terminal 3 offers 380,000 square metres (4.1 million square feet) of space in a seven-storey building.

It can handle 22 million passengers a year, bringing Changi’s total capacity to about 70 million, airport operator the Civil Aviation A