Singapore aims to make the airport experience unmissable

Singapore's Changi Airport is set to open its Jewel complex on April 17, featuring the Rain Vortex waterfall among other attractions

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A sprawling retail complex with the world's tallest indoor waterfall is what Singapore hopes will bring more travellers and visitors to the airport to shop and dine.

As global competition for travellers heats up in the aviation industry, according to Reuters, Singapore's Changi Airport is set to open its $1.3 billion Jewel complex on April 17.

"[We want to] provide a wide range of amenities that allows the passenger to make the best use of their time as they transit through us," Jayson Goh, managing director, airport operations management at Changi, told a news conference. The airport also aims to attract domestic visitors and tourists to its shops, cinemas and food and beverage outlets. It also houses a 4-storey plant display and a YotelAir hotel.

Housed under a dome of glass and steel, the building spread over 135,700 square metres is designed by Moshe Safdie, the architect known for the Marina Bay Sands resort, a boat-shaped landmark that has become synonymous with Singapore's skyline.

A man walks past a section of the 4-storey plant display inside Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Feline Lim

Changi Airport, recently voted in a Skytrax survey as the world's best for the seventh year running, reported a record 65.6 million passenger movements in 2018.

Sharon Ng, who teaches marketing at Nanyang Technological University's business school, said the concept was unique as other airports mainly target travellers and don't have the scale of retail that Jewel does.

A joint venture between Changi Airport and Singapore developer CapitaLand, Jewel adds 53,600 square metres of retail space in the wealthy city-state.

Scores of visitors lined up on Thursday at the pre-opening for a glimpse of the Rain Vortex, a 40-metre tall waterfall that pours rainwater from the centre of the glass and steel dome.

epa07498505 Members of the public take photographs of the Rain Vortex inside Jewel Changi in Singapore, 11 April 2019.Built at a cost of 1.7 billion SGD (just over 1 million euro), the Jewel is a hub that links Changi Airport's Terminals 1, 2, and 3. The ten-storey structure covers a 3.85 hectare area and includes a hotel, retail and dining outlets, early check-in counters and baggage areas. The central feature of Jewel Changi is the 40-metre Rain Vortex, the world's tallest indoor waterfall and the lush greenery that surrounds it.  EPA/WALLACE WOON

It is part of efforts by Changi - the world's seventh-busiest airport for international traffic - to attract long-haul travellers over other hubs such as Hong Kong.

"Passengers are spending a longer time as they transit through airports, which is the reason why there is a need for us to increase the amenities," said Jayson Goh, a senior executive at Changi Airport Group.

A man in a chicken costume sits in mist inside Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Feline Lim

But Brendan Sobie, chief analyst at the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, said that Jewel would "primarily be used by local residents and some departing passengers".

"Attracting transit passengers is not realistic as they would need to clear immigration and there are so many great facilities [inside the airport] already that makes Changi a top transit airport," he said.

A YotelAir hotel room with a raised wheelchair-accessible bed at Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Feline Lim