Changi Airport raises departure tax

Picture courtesy of Changi Airport Group

FIRST comes the impressive news about renovations and expansions that boast more and new facilities.

Singapore Changi Airport has recently completed extensive renovations of its oldest terminal – Terminal 1 – to the tune of S$500 million (US$399 million) and has initiated plans to replace the budget terminal with a new Terminal 4. And it’s not stopping at that. The airport is said to be planning a fifth terminal, citing reasons that it cannot afford to slag behind other regional airports that are fast expanding and becoming more competitive. Hopefully the belief that capacity will create demand will continue to hold true.

Next comes the painful news for air travellers. Changi will raise the departure tax from $28 to $34 – a hike of more than 20 per cent – to take effect on April 1, 2013. Naturally, so said Changi Airport Group, the additional money collected would be used to fund new projects and developments. One might well have foreseen this at some point in time, but note that the last increase by more than 30 per cent was only implemented in 2009. 

The new fee will match Changi with close rival Seoul’s Incheon International Airport but make it more expensive than other regional airports such as Hong Kong International ($28), Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport ($28), Kuala Lumpur International ($27) and Dubai International ($27). There are concerns that this is ill-timed in light of the state of the global economy when airlines themselves are struggling to recover. For the travelling public, it does not matter where the hike comes from as it all adds up to the cost of flying.

True, in as much as upgrading programmes will enhance an airport’s competitive edge, they also add to the comfort and delight of travellers. Arriving and departing passengers are less likely to spend more time at he airport than necessary, and Changi as a hub airport is the darling of transit passengers. Last year, Changi introduced a new transit fee of $12. Will this be increased any time soon? Perhaps not, since these passengers do indeed have a choice.

About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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