Singapore Airshow: The race to become the world's best airport

Self-boarding gates at Changi Airport Changi Airport is installing self-boarding gates

Among the things that people dislike about travelling, queuing up at airports is arguably the most common.

Luckily for passengers travelling through and from Singapore, the city-state's airport realises this and says its new terminal will tackle the problem.

Changi airport's Terminal 4 will not only have automated self-check-in facilities, but passengers will also be able to tag and drop their bags themselves and there will be self-boarding gates - all aimed at cutting waiting times.

"We want to offer a stress-free and smooth experience to those going through Changi," says Tan Lye Teck, executive vice president of Changi Airport Group.

And the airport has a lot to gain from travellers in a happier mood.

"Shorter time spent in queues means passengers will have more time to spend in retail outlets," Mr Tan adds.

Last year, passengers spent 2bn Singapore dollars ($1.6bn; £955m) at retail outlets inside the airport.

Economic impact

Start Quote

How successful a regional hub you become is dependent on what services you can offer to make the transit experience better”

End Quote David Kuo The Motley Fool

And it is not just about keeping the travellers happy. A good airport, or the lack of one, can also have a big impact on a country's economy.

To begin with, an airport capable of handling large numbers is key to boosting tourism - a big driver of the economy in the case of Singapore and other countries in the region.

Marc Kramer, senior vice-president at HVS Global Hospitality Service, says the number of arrivals is a key area the consulting firm looks at when advising clients on potential investments.

"Airport arrivals are a key gauge for us to ascertain the strength of a destination's economy and growth in demand for hotels in the area," he told the BBC.

Singapore's airport handled more than 50 million passengers last year and with the new terminal it will have the capacity to handle a further 16 million.

The ability to handle large numbers of arrivals is also important to business travel and the catchily named meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) sector.

Swimming pool at Changi Airport Singapore's airport offers various services to transit passengers
Stopover of choice

Changi airport has also introduced more and more technology over the years to woo passengers.

A mini-cinema, swimming pool, free massage chairs and even a butterfly garden are just some of the facilities it has put in place.

Start Quote

Travellers are looking for something more than just a transactional experience, they want something more emotional”

End Quote Shashank Nigam Simpliflying

Analysts say this push to become a leading airport is also driven by the desire to become a regional hub, and Singapore is not the only airport in Asia aiming to do this.

An increasing number of people from Asia are travelling to the West and vice versa. At the same time, there is a growing trend of airlines cutting down on really long flights and opting to offer two relatively shorter ones to connect cross-continental destinations.

As a result, major airports are vying to become the stopover destination in the hope that transit passengers will further help boost the economy.

Singapore's airport already offers free city tours to passengers who are in transit for more than five hours.

"Once you are there - you are going to spend some money and contribute to the economy," says David Kuo from the financial website the Motley Fool.

"But how successful a regional hub you become is dependent on what services you can offer to make the transit experience better."

'Intense' race

And the competition is heating up, with passengers having multiple options to choose from when it comes to breaking their journeys.

Hong Kong airport Hong Kong airport is among the Asian airports vying to become a regional hub

Bangkok, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur airports are all looking to become key transit points.

There is also growing competition from Dubai and Doha in the Middle East, not least because of the aggressive growth of the region's airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

Elsewhere, Indonesia is opening a new airport in Bali, while China is set to expand the total number of airports in the country to 230 in 2015 from 175 in 2010.

Meanwhile, India has got private firms involved in developing and running airports in major cities to improve its infrastructure. It has set a target of having 500 operational airports by 2020.

Given the competition, it is hardly surprising that airports such as Singapore's Changi are looking at the most minute details to improve the passenger experience.

"The race is so intense that airports have to create something that strikes a chord with travellers," says Shashank Nigam, chief executive of consulting firm Simpliflying.

"Travellers are looking for something more than just a transactional experience, they want something more emotional."

And if there's one thing that's going to get air travellers' emotions running high, it's long queues at the airport.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    UK UNEMPLOYMENT 08:29:

    Just a reminder, in a little over an hour's time the Office for National Statistics reports labour market data. It includes the latest unemployment and average earnings data. This is what happened last month.

     
  2.  
    TESCO 08:22: BBC Radio 4

    More from Tesco chief executive, Philip Clarke, on the Today Programme. How will he fix it? "We can reach every postcode," he says. Customers can get their hands on their shopping at stores, through deliveries and by collecting their order. "I am sure Tesco will be a leader again." Tesco shares are up 4.3% in early trading.

     
  3.  
    TESCO 08:18: BBC Radio 4

    Tesco chief executive, Philip Clarke, is on the Today Programme. Why are sales down? "Consumers are feeling the long-run impact of lower income," he says. He will change the supermarket and get customers back to the middle market, challenging cheaper rivals like Aldi and Lidl, he said. "Discounters will never allow you to be cheaper than them but you can get closer to them," he said.

     
  4.  
    TESCO Richard Hunter, from the stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown

    tweets: "Over the last 10 years, the Tesco share price has risen 32p. Every little helps."

     
  5.  
    RECKITT BENCKISER 08:00:
    gaviscon double action

    Amid the excitement about Tesco, Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Gaviscon heartburn medicine, releases first-quarter sales. Revenue excluding currency swings rose 3% to £2.37bn. The company is on track to meet its target for 2014 of increasing sales 4-5%, it said.

     
  6.  
    TESCO Via Twitter Adam Parsons Business Correspondent

    tweets: "Clarke tells me "Aldi and Lidl are formidable...we need to be much, much closer to them, or at the same price. But we have to be different.""

     
  7.  
    HOME BUILDING 07:49:
    File photo dated 05/01/14 of houses

    Homebuilder Persimmon is giving the market an update on its progress. The firm says forward sales for 2014, which includes homes not yet completed, is 38% ahead of last year, with an average selling price of £200,400, which is about 3% higher.

     
  8.  
    Via Twitter Adam Parsons Business Correspondent

    tweets: Tesco's Clarke: "Now have 1,750 Click and Collect locations, including 6 Tube stations"

     
  9.  
    HEADLINES
     
  10.  
    CREDIT SUISSE 07:34:
    Credit Suisse, Zurich

    Swiss banking giant, Credit Suisse, says first quarter profits fell by more than a third. It made $979m in the quarter. Group revenue fell by 8%. The bank blamed less activity in its bond-trading division.

     
  11.  
    TESCO 07:29: Radio 5 live

    Reacting to Tesco's profits on Radio 5 live James Bevan from CCLA Investment Management says: "The tanker is slowly beginning to turn." Asked about Tesco's international business he says: "It's important that they are expanding in clothing in the United States." And he reminds us that "the value of its property book is well in excess of its market value".

     
  12.  
    TESCO 07:18: BBC Radio 4

    BBC Business Editor Kamal Ahmed has been examining Tesco's earnings report for the Today Programme. He said, "supermarkets have been built on the idea they will sell more and more and more" and large ones including Tesco are suffering "the shock of the discounters". He notes that Tesco are now expanding beyond food. "They do have the bank and are about to offer current accounts, and restaurants."

     
  13.  
    TESCO 07:00: Breaking News
    tesco

    Tesco annual profits have fallen by 6% to £3.3bn and like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect on new store openings, have fallen by 1.4%. Tesco also also announced a £734m loss of value in its European business which has been hit by the Eurozone crisis.

     
  14.  
    RAIL 06:53: BBC Radio 4

    Sim Harris, managing editor of Railnews is talking about figures from the Office for Rail Regulation on the Today Programme. Total government support for railways in the UK was £4bn for the 2012-13 financial year. It's a bit of a myth the railways system is fully privatised, said Mr Harris. "A little bit of railways are in the private sector, while most is in the public sector," he says. Network Rail, which owns the track, is publicly owned.

     
  15.  
    TESCO 06:41: BBC Radio 4

    Plenty of advice for Tesco this morning. On the Today Programme Laura Lambie at Investec Wealth & Investment says: "People are shopping with their feet". Customers are buying cheap food at Aldi or treating themselves at Waitrose or Marks & Spencer with less money spent between, she says. Tesco "must try to get their strategy right".

     
  16.  
    TESCO 06:33: BBC Radio 4

    "The real problem for Tesco is it hasn't moved with the times," says Bruno Monteyne, a senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein on the Today Programme. "If you really want some great prices you can go elsewhere," he says. The company is facing "what we call a value-quality duopoly," says Mr Monteyne. Either people want cheap food or high-quality food "a bit of everything isn't good enough," says Mr Monteyne.

     
  17.  
    CHINA GROWTH 06:22: Radio 5 live
    China flag

    China's economy expanded by 7.4% in the first quarter of the year, better growth than many were expecting. But it is a slowdown from 7.7% growth in the final quarter of last year. On Radio 5 live, Oliver Barron, head of the Beijing office at the investment bank NSBO says the growth is "a little bit lacklustre". Policy makers are starting to worry "a little bit".

     
  18.  
    CHINA CURRENCY 06:20:
    Mainland China 100 Yuan notes

    The US has told China its currency must be allowed to rise if it, and the global economy, are to see stable growth. Unlike the euro and the dollar, the value of the yuan is not set by the market but is kept within certain limits of other world currencies. The US Treasury's twice-yearly report to policymakers says the yuan is "significantly undervalued".

     
  19.  
    TESCO 06:13: Radio 5 live

    On Wake Up to Money John Coll, an analyst at Kantar Worldpanel, puts Tesco's problems into some perspective. He remind us that they have more than double the market share of their nearest competitor. He says the are trying hard to be "dynamic and innovative".

     
  20.  
    JET FUEL 06:08: BBC World News
    Handout photo dated 15/07/13 issued by British Airways of a British Airways Airbus A380 flying over the cliffs at Dover

    Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways' parent company IAG, has been talking to the BBC about his company's project to buy jet fuel made from waste. The GreenSky fuel plant, in Thurrock, Essex, will supply about 2% of the fuel needed by the company. He denied the project was mere "greenwashing" and said it will have a real environmental impact. "This is turning waste that would have been producing methane into fuel," he said.

     
  21.  
    TESCO 06:03: Radio 5 live

    Expect to hear a lot today about the "Watford model" from Tesco's chief executive, Philip Clarke according to retail analyst Phil Dorrell on Wake Up to Money. Watford has a giant Tesco mega-store. It is a "step-change" but is a costly model, according to Mr Dorrell. He warns that chief executive Philip Clarke has just 16-18 months to improve Tesco's performance.

     
  22.  
    TESCO 06:00: Radio 5 live

    Some stinging words on Wake Up to Money for Tesco's management from Phil Dorrell who runs a consultancy called Retail Remedy. "The senior team is stumbling around looking for a code to get market share to where it should be," says. "Innovating is not going to get them out of the current troubles," he says. They need "a clear strategy of where they are going" and how they will "improve the vast majority of their stores," Philip says.

     
  23.  
    06:00: Howard Mustoe, Business Reporter

    Good morning! Get in touch via twitter @BBCBusiness and via email bizpagelive@bbc.co.uk

     
  24.  
    06:00: Ben Morris Business Reporter

    Tesco reports annual results at 07:00 and analysts are talking about a 10% fall in profits. Check-in with the Business live page for the details. And good morning!

     

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier HARDtalk Watch

    French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier on why he uses unconventional models in shows

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.