The world’s classiest ‘Jewel’ at Changi Airport opens on April 17

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(Photo: CAG)

THE much-anticipated Jewel Changi Airport, with more than 280 shops and food and beverage outlets, opens its doors to the world on April 17.

Before the opening, a public preview will be held from April 11 to 16 for Singapore residents to be among the first to see the 10-storey development, which is set to be the  world-classiest gateway for Singapore to the rest of the world.

You’ve seen pictures of its majestic Rain Vortex. You’ve watched its distinctive dome-shaped glass and steel façade coming up. And how about the fact that it boasts a lush Forest Valley right in its midst?

You’ll be one of the first to have a sneak preview before global tourists arrive. Every Singapore resident is invited to visit from April 11, before the rest of the world descends upon this urban paradise, says the CAG (Changi Airport Group).

Last year, a record 65 million folks popped by the world-class Changi Airport. And now even if it is just for a few hours, visitors arriving for business or leisure will have the opportunity to embrace Singapore’s unique melting pot of cultures and eclectic identity.

‘WORLD’S BEST AIRPORT’

For the record, Changi Airport topped at the 2018 World Airport Awards, being voted by air travellers as the ‘World’s Best Airport’ for the sixth consecutive year. This is the first time in the history of the awards that an airport has won this prestigious title for six consecutive years.

Jewel’s iconic structure with its glass and steel façade is designed by world-renowned architect, Moshe Safdie, globally-famous for his iconic Marina Bay Sands integrated resort. It is set to become an iconic landmark for Singapore and a key tourist attraction Singaporeans can be proud of.

A total of about 500,000 free preview tickets will be available for Singaporeans after Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State for Transport, broke the good news on Thursday in Parliament during the debate on the ministry’s budget.

The S$1.7 billion project, a 10-storey complex consisting of five storeys above ground and five basement floors will be home to more than 280 shops and food and beverage (F&B) outlets with the return of fast-food chain A & W, an 11-screen cineplex and even a Pokeman merchandise store.

“During the preview, which will run in four three-hour time blocks from 10am to 10 pm daily, visitors will be able to explore various points of interest in Jewel, such as the lush greenery of the four-storey Forest Valley with two walking trails and take in the magnificent 40m Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall,” CAG said in a news release.

“They will also be able to shop and dine at more than 90 per cent of Jewel’s 280 shopping and dining outlets.”

LIFESTYLE OFFERINGS

The new T1/Jewel car park – spanning five underground levels B2M to B5 – will also be fully operational from Apr 11. Basement 2M and 2 of the car park are meant for short-term parking, and the charges are 4 cents per minute for the first 90 minutes and S$5 per 30-minute block thereafter.

Speaking during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate, Dr Lam said that on top of lifestyle offerings, Jewel Changi Airport will offer aviation facilities that will improve the travel experience for passengers, such as early check-in facilities, integrated ticketing and baggage services for fly-cruise and fly-coach transfers.

Meanwhile, F&B brands that are setting up shop in the complex, and in the region for the first time, also include Swiss chocolatier Laderach, Norwegian casual seafood restaurant Pink Fish and American fast food chain Shake Shack.

Jewel will also be home to a long list of homegrown brands, including design retailer Naiise, gallery store Supermama and Tiger Beer which will be launching a first-in-the-world Tiger Street Lab at level 5, offering exclusive seasonal brews.

Even celebrity local chef Violet Oon will open her largest restaurant to date – more than 350 sq m in size – offering local delicacies, such as dry laksa.

The ‘Jewel’ is primed to be world-class at its best, says the CAG, with its distinctive dome-shaped facade made of glass and steel. It is sited next to Terminal 1 (T1) and linked to T2 and T3 via air-conditioned linkways fitted with travelators.

In his latest effort, the highlights include a five-storey garden with 2,500 trees and 100,000 shrubs, with two walking trails. There is also a 40m-high Rain Vortex; the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. A 14,000 sq m Canopy Park – the size of 11 Olympic-size swimming pools – is located on the top floor.

Mr Sitoh Yih Pin (MP, Potong Pasir), Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee on Transport, said : “I must confess that before I visited the Jewel in early February this year, I had my doubts about the need for yet another shopping area at Changi Airport, given the shopping opportunities already available at the existing terminals.

“Instead, what I found was a beautifully designed garden concept recreational centre which complements the existing airport and exemplifies our position as a garden city. It will also create many job opportunities for Singaporeans.”

Responding, Dr Lam said: “I’m happy to hear from Mr Sitoh that he believes Jewel Changi Airport will be a delight for visitors and Singaporeans alike.”

FUTURE TERMINAL 5

He added that apart from Jewel, plans are on track for other infrastructure developments at Changi, for example, the construction of the future Terminal 5 at Changi East.

Upgrading works on T2 will also start soon. It will be expanded and refreshed, with automated check-in kiosks, biometric-enabled bag-drops and automated immigration gates, to offer passengers greater convenience from check-in to immigration to their flight, he said.

Changi Airport is on a bumper superlative run. A record 65.6 million passenger movements in 2018, this figure beats 2017’s record of 60 million passengers with a 5.5 per cent increase. Of the total passenger movements, 6.13 million passengers travelled through Changi Airport in December alone, making it the first month the airport saw passenger numbers exceed six million.

The Friday before Christmas, December 21, proved to be the busiest day of the year with a record 221,155 passengers movements.

The CAG says: “Jewel will augment Changi Airport’s status as an air hub. Terminal 1’s expansion will also be completed, increasing the airport’s handling the capacity to 85 million passengers per annum.”

But there remains an aura of caution that 2019 may pose challenges like rising fuel prices and trade tensions for the industry. But CAG believes the demand for air travel in the Asia Pacific region is expected to “grow steadily”.

According to CAG, the airport’s top 10 routes – with Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Jakarta being the top three destinations – remained largely unchanged. Hong Kong (4th) and Manila (5th) rounded up Changi Airport’s top five routes. Bangkok and Bali each moved up one spot to second and sixth position respectively.

Hold your head high: Your ‘world’s best airport’ is ready to draw out new curtains next month and you got to make sure you’re among those who get to see an early free preview of the ‘Jewel’ from April 11-16.