SINGAPORE. The stunning new Terminal 4 at Singapore Changi Airport opened on Tuesday, led by a striking consumer and commercial offer, a strong Sense of Place and innovative use of technology. The first flight from Cathay Pacific landed at 05.25, with Korean Air the other airline user on day one. In coming days they will be joined by Cebu Pacific Air, Spring Airlines, AirAsia Group and Vietnam Airlines.

The Moodie Davitt Report was one of a small group of media invited to tour the facility on its opening day. Media were guided by Changi Airport Group’s (CAG) Chandra Mahtani, who led the Airside Concessions team for this project. She has just been named Vice President Commercial Planning for T5, a long-term development project.

“Retail is a very important component in T4, featuring both local and international operators, including nine new brands and retailers,” said Ms Mahtani. “We did a lot of analysis on passenger profiles that informed the offerings here. The data showed that people wanted much more fast fashion, affordable luxury and mid-priced goods. So our theme here is ‘Where style takes off’. That is the over-arching concept.”

“Other airports operate duty free as single stores, but here we like to do things differently, so we have two operators with a single till system. You can buy anywhere and pay anywhere. It’s intended to be a seamless experience for the traveller.” – Chandra Mahtani, Changi Airport Group

T4 will be “a shopping and dining haven,” CAG has pledged, with more than 80 retail and F&B outlets, 57 of them airside. New retail brands for Changi Airport include Adidas, Airport Pharmacy (an Adelaide-based airport specialist in this category), WHSmith (making its return to Changi after many years), Moleskine, Pazzion and Zakkasg while new F&B brands include the Tiger Den bar and Chinese restaurant Treasures (Yi Dian Xin) by Imperial Treasure.

In a first for Changi, an integrated duty free zone featuring DFS’s liquor & tobacco offer and The Shilla Duty Free’s perfumes & cosmetics range allows shoppers to pay for their purchases at common cashier counters.

Classy combination: The walk-through connects DFS (left) and The Shilla Duty Free (right) with a single till; the central walkway houses promotional zones for each partner

View from the top: The open spaces of the new T4 as seen from the mezzanine level in each direction (above and below)

Other highlights include the opening of a series of 11m high stores representing The Cocoa Trees, Gassan, Furla, Coach, Michael Kors, Charles & Keith and Singaporean tea brand TWG.

Later in the passenger journey, a striking Heritage Zone is designed to echo
 the architecture of shophouse facades, providing passengers with a glimpse of Singapore’s cultural heritage. The zone houses a range of traditional retail and dining offerings, including local brands Bee Cheng Hiang, Bengawan Solo, Curry Times, Eu Yan Sang and Heavenly Wang.

Doing things differently in duty free

Travellers enter the new T4 through an off-centre security zone, designed as such so that they can enter at one end of the combined walk-through and then bypass all of the stores on the way to their gates. “It’s a single street from the moment they walk in until the end,” said Ms Mahtani.

“As you know, other airports operate duty free as single stores, but here we like to do things differently, so we have two operators with a single till system. You can buy anywhere and pay anywhere. It’s intended to be a seamless experience for the traveller rather than making them go to one store and purchasing, and then going to another and purchasing.”

On the challenge of combining the stores to allow customers to shop at each and pay in a single transaction, Ms Mahtani said: “It was a long journey. We had a lot of conversations, a lot of back-end work from all three partners, DFS, Shilla and CAG, and came up with this solution. We had a lot of cross-training so that the liquor staff or the P&C staff could handle customer queries from the other category. It involved a lot of collaboration. If something is new, of course people have reservations, but as we travelled this journey, everyone became more comfortable with it.

Standing proud: Changi Airport Group’s Airside Concessions team of Chandra Mahtani (second right), Sherry Jew (right) and Jane Lim with Dermot Davitt in the Heritage Zone on Tuesday

“For us it was really about the traveller experience. You’ll see a lot of integration between the two operators to make it seamless for customers and a lot of interactive areas across the two outlets.”

The P&C and L&T stores are separated by a curved 6m walkway with two stop points – one for Shilla, one for DFS – that each host promotional campaigns, launches or new concepts every two months.

Along with DFS across the aisle, Shilla has excelled in this new combination store, with four clearly delineated zones for make-up, skincare, wellness and perfumes, each visible through its own signature design

Currently, Shilla is showcasing a major Lancôme campaign, while DFS has dedicated its first campaign to local cocktails. These have been cultivated by the head bartender at well-known bar and restaurant Crackjerjack. He created three cocktails for DFS inspired by traditional tastes and flavours from Singapore, presented in a traditional street cart.

The Shilla Duty Free store is neatly broken up into four distinct zones, for make-up, skincare, well-being and perfumes. Each area has its own identity, with different use of materials and design for each. Mahtani said: “With the zones clearly targeted, it makes it easier for passengers to see what zone they should enter and can find their brand easily.”

The Shilla Duty Free Vice President of Global Merchandise Division Raelene Johnson told us: “CAG presented us with a great shell with which to work. We can capitalise on the height of the store, and what is different here from the other terminals are the decorative features of the ceilings. That creates some disruption and differentiation, which is important in such a large space.”

She added: “The layout makes sense in terms of the journey but also in having make-up at the front of the shop. That’s important as there is a lot of engagement and newness in make-up. It also reflects the fact that make-up is the fastest growing category, though skincare still remains the largest sector in the mix.”

“We get good spends from all of the major airline groups that will use T4, and we know these nationalities well from our other stores at Changi” – Raelene Johnson, The Shilla Duty Free

Highlights include the addition of a La Mer installation that can also be viewed from outside the store through a 6m glass window, and for Kiehl’s a bespoke shop-in-shop. “Kiehl’s remains very much a New York brand but we have included some Asian design touches too,” said Ms Johnson. “From most other brands we have their latest designs and we have some new brands too. Diptyque is a new brand for the airport. In fragrances we have done premium fragrances for the first time. We haven’t had the space in T1, T2 or T3 for luxury in this way before.”

Other new brands include Bath & Body Works (landside), Victoria’s Secret, included for the first time in a main shop (it is present in stand-alone boutiques elsewhere) and AmorePacific brand Hera – a first for the Singapore market, domestic or travel retail.

Ms Johnson said: “We get good spends from all of the major airline groups that will use T4, and we know these nationalities well from our other stores at Changi. What we need to do is be agile and flexible so that as things change, we can adapt quickly.”

Across the corridor DFS has three experiential areas: a cocktail bar, The Whiskey House and a craft zone within its overall offer. The cocktail bar currently hosts a campaign for Bombay Sapphire gin, offering travellers the chance to create their own cocktails with staff guidance.

Quality approach: The DFS store features distinctive zones for cocktails, whiskies and craft



DFS Group Managing Director, Singapore and Indonesia Wilcy Wong said: “We wanted to make things much more interactive here. Instead of making the cocktail for the customer, we invite them to make their own and to get involved themselves. It’s more about doing than simply sampling and it ensures that people have an experience and can learn.”

“This is about being niche, different but also experiential” – Wilcy Wong, DFS Group

The Whiskey House is a concept introduced by DFS last year at Changi T2, now added to T4. There are also separate areas for wines, cigars, other tobacco and an innovative craft zone for spirits and beers, including sampling taps for local and regional beers.

Ms Wong said: “This is about being niche, different but also experiential. This concept around craft is also about tasting, which is important. We feature some local and other Asian beers that travellers can sample and then purchase. The same applies to small batch gins, vodkas, whiskies. We’ll change the brands on offer regularly. Craft is new for us; beyond the traditional brands it’s a way to introduce niche into the offer.”

On the DFS concept overall, Ms Wong added: “It’s basically all about being interactive and experiential. Like CAG we want to increase dwell time by interesting travellers in the store and the offer, and engaging them much more. We will be agile as the terminal settles down and to flex the offer as we need to meet consumer expectations.”

Wilcy Wong in the DFS craft area: “This is about being niche, different and experiential”

“Everyone has raised their game here.” – Chandra Mahtani, Changi Airport Group

Eye-catching speciality offer

After the combined cash till area, the duty free store opens out into a stunning concourse area with a vaulted roof. Here, the undisputed highlights are the double-height 11m stores, featuring a blend of local and international brands.

Ms Mahtani said: “This is another first for Changi and a real wow factor. The stores range in size from around 175sq m to 430sq m. We wanted to encourage the retailers to make great use of the scale and height. Local brands include TWG, The Cocoa Trees and Charles & Keith. Everyone has raised their game here.”

She added: “We were very targeted and selective about who we brought in. Once we decided on the category, such as affordable luxury, we set about populating the spaces. Not every brand or retailer can execute a double-height store like this. We wanted a local and international mix from a broad offering and had to be sure they could deliver.”

The biggest of these is The Cocoa Trees, which opens its largest store at the airport here in T4. The store is designed along the lines of a carnival theme, with bespoke installations from almost every brand that reflect the fairground concept.

The Cocoa Trees has introduced a stunning double-height store, where all of the major confectionery brands have played a part in creating a fairground-style attraction (below)

FNA Group International Director Retail & Local Sales Division Pamela Loo-Song said: “We wanted to make the store a lot more colourful and inviting than other stores, which should be the case with confectionery. We encourage browsing and impulse purchase here.

“We wanted to give people a feel of coming into a carnival, even as far as the tent in the centre and sky blue with hot air balloons above. The fixtures are in tandem with this concept. M&M’s has localised its concept, leaning on the idea of the Singapore Flyer ferris wheel. Mondelez created its own castle featuring Toblerone and Cadbury, and everyone did something special here. Hershey’s came in with a candy booth and gaming area where you can personalise and mix and match your purchases.

“We wanted to give people a feel of coming into a carnival” – Pamela Loo-Song, FNA Group International

“Lindt’s Pick & Mix and added a 3D hot air balloon, Kit-Kat created their own installation and Mars too with the newly rebranded Snickers.

“We created our own bumper car in one area and we also created a van concept called Taste of Singapore that showcases Singaporean treats. Deli is a fast-growing category and this local offer reflects this.”

FNA-owned The Cocoa Trees also manages a stand-alone Taste of Singapore store in the terminal’s Heritage Zone, with a striking Sense of Place, local fixtures and finishings from tiles to crockery that evoke Singapore of old.

Across the terminal lies a spectacular TWG store with one of the most eye-catching back walls anywhere in travel retail, housing around 2,000 tins for tea, and tasting bars for tea, chocolate and macaroons.

Anyone for tea? Singapore-based TWG has executed one of the great speciality stores in travel retail at Changi T4

TWG Director of Business Development & Communications Maranda Barnes said: “This is our largest travel retail store and it is amplified by the tins lining the walls and two infinity mirrors that really give the impression of space and scale. It’s the first time we have added a sampling counter so if you want try a tea from Malaysia or Korea or anywhere else, and you want to buy a gift, then you try a sip and then buy. With tea you cannot go wrong; it’s a great gift for business associates, family or friends, and is easy to take cross-border.

“You can find almost anything here. As a Singaporean company we’re very proud of this store. We have 65 locations worldwide in 18 countries (including in travel retail) so this builds on our presence.”

The other luxury retailers and brands in this zone have also brought their A game to T4. Notably, the first purchase made airside on Tuesday morning was by a Singaporean traveller at the Rolex counter in the Gassan watches & jewellery store, revealed Ms Mahtani.

Aiming high: World class executions from Michael Kors, Charles & Keith, Coach and Furla

“The Rolex shop-in-shop here at Gassan is stunning and it has helped elevate the entire space,” said Ms Mahtani. “All of the brands in this shop are so well executed. The extra height makes a world of difference in this category. But all of the double-height stores really add the wow factor.”

The Gassan store is among the signature luxury stores in the new terminal, and was home to the first airside purchase on Tuesday through partner Rolex

T4 also houses a range of single-height boutiques, but these too have a point of difference from other Changi terminals.

Ms Mahtani said: “These stores are 4m in height, which compares to 2.8m/2.9m at other terminals. That adds to the brand showcase for established names such as Swarovski or Lacoste, and for new names such as Pazzion.”

A roll-call of firsts

Also prominent in this zone are the Tiger Den bar and WHSmith, which won the contract for all news & bookstores at the airport, including T4. The company has revealed its latest design iteration in a bright, welcoming space.

Ms Mahtani said: “It is a new design from WHSmith and it looks good. For the offer, we said we wanted a book store, not one with much of the space dedicated to confectionery, which you see in some places. They have some chilled drinks and so on, but it’s essentially all news & books, which were keen to emphasise.”

The Fashion Place: Brands are thrust to the fore inside the luxury multi-brand store

On other stores, she noted: “We have a lovely gold shop from Luvenus and Lagardère Travel Retail has really pushed the brands visually to the fore in The Fashion Gallery. Whether you were a single or double height store we wanted to be sure you did something different. It was about trying new things too. We are leaning on the popularity of sportswear with Adidas, and for example our consumer technology operator has done is the ‘drone zone’.

Representing consumer technology specialist Sprint-Cass, CEO KL Lim said: “We have been moving more into areas such as smart toys, and we see the demand. But this is the first time we’ve given space to drones and we are doing it in a fun way that people can play with.”

Sprint-Cass CEO KL Lim: Smart toys and gadgets represent the future of consumer technology in travel retail

Another first is Airport Pharmacy, an established Adelaide-based airport specialist (with airport stores in Adelaide, Brisbane and Cairns) making its debut at Changi.

Striking images of the Airport Pharmacy outlet, as the brand makes its debut outside Australia

Rajiv Bhindi: Exciting new market for the Airport Pharmacy brand

Airport Pharmacy Director Rajiv Bhindi said: “We are excited to bring the Airport Pharmacy brand and concept to the stunning Changi Airport Terminal 4. This is our first location outside of Australia, and I could not think of any better place to make our international debut then at Changi Airport. CAG have been fantastic partners in bringing our vision to life and we thank them for showing confidence in our brand and giving us the opportunity.

“The expansive space we have been awarded at T4 has enabled us to bring a very comprehensive and complete pharmacy offer to Changi.

“We are debuting a number of new health and beauty brands to not only Changi but also to travel retail. Our aim is to provide passengers all the essentials that make their travels more comfortable and enjoyable as well as provide them with a relaxing shopping experience. With over 6,000 SKUs, our range of product covers, health and wellbeing, beauty and skincare. In addition our pharmacists are available 24 hours a day to answer any health and medication-related queries as well as dispense prescriptions and provide advice.

“Together with our range, we have worked closely with CAG on the design of the Pharmacy to ensure it excites and delights passengers and also complements the beautiful ambience and surrounds of Terminal 4. The initial response from travellers has been fantastic and the product range and shopping experience have been appreciated.”

WHSmith makes a welcome return to Changi, where it won the news & books contract for all four terminals

Changi firsts: T4 marks the airport debut for a number of brands including (from above) Adidas, Tiger Den and Moleskine

Discover Singapore takes Lagardère Travel Retail’s destination concept to a new level in T4 too, said Ms Mahtani: “They have tried to make it a walk-through style. Some areas have local heritage execution which dovetails with our Peranakan zone. They also have tastings, which is very important for all operators where possible. This is a showcase for the best of Singapore.”

Discover Singapore: The updated destination concept from Lagardère Travel Retail

On the mezzanine level above the main concourse sits the Food Hall, housing nine local, regional and international brands. And as reported, JCDecaux has delivered some stunning campaigns to launch the new terminal.

Speciality street: Some established and new boutique names have come to life in new ways at Changi T4

Sense of Place to the fore

One of the great highlights of T4 is the Heritage Zone, offering a stunning Sense of Place that one rarely finds at airports.

For the first time at Changi Airport, T4 offers a permanent showcase of Singapore’s local culture and flavour. The Heritage Zone gives a glimpse into the evolution of shophouse architecture from the 1880s to the 1950s, including the rich and colourful Peranakan heritage often seen in the likes of the Katong and Chinatown areas.

Sight and sound: The Heritage Zone gives a glimpse into the evolution of shophouse architecture from the 1880s to the 1950s, including the rich and colourful Peranakan heritage. Images above and below offer a snapshot of how local brands have executed their concepts in these spaces.

Passengers can also enjoy a special performance displayed on the Peranakan facade. A 10m x 6m LED screen transforms two shophouse bays into a digital theatre stage to present a six-minute cultural mini-theatre show, Peranakan Love Story. The non-conversational musical, set in 1930s Singapore, is about an unlikely romance between two passionate musician neighbours living next to each other.

The show, a collaboration with renowned Singaporean composer and artiste Dick Lee, also features other local talents including Adrian Pang, Koh Chieng Mun, Amy Cheng and Benjamin Kheng.

Ms Mahtani said: “The level of detail in this zone is amazing, evoking a time gone by in Singapore. We researched and brought in the very old fixtures, fittings, fans, lights, counters and much more. We have live cooking stations only at T4 for Heavenly Wang, we have Bengawan Solo, the most famous deli in Singapore and other great brands.”

Taste of Singapore: Another FNA-run store that draws on the heritage of Singapore

Concluding, Ms Mahtani said: “Everything we added here, we wanted it to stand up and make an impact. It’s not a huge terminal but it’s a very productive and efficient terminal. I think I can say we have done well.”

“It will start with 8 million passengers and we have capacity in the terminal for 16 million. It’s an intimate space. It’s all one single layout and we don’t duplicate the categories. Because the gates are parallel to the shops it’s very easy to re-enter this zone and visibility within the space is very good. In P&C and L&T we hope that we may see basket sizes that are larger than in other terminals; you have cross-selling and only one till. Overall, we believe we have a great balance and mix here now.”

The Food Hall houses nine concepts, straddling local and international flavour

Key features of the Changi T4 development

*T4 has a total floor area of 225,000sq m across the two-storey building, which encompasses terminal, car parks and taxi deck. The project was completed after three years of construction. Although the new facility is just half the size of T3, T4’s planners and designers have delivered a terminal with a capacity of 16 million passengers a year, two-thirds that of T3.

*The Changi hallmark of a feeling of space is enhanced in T4 by high ceilings coupled with height limits for equipment and machinery. The terminal’s showpiece is a Central Galleria (300m long x 18m wide x 23m high) which separates the public (landside) zone from the transit area. This visually transparent concept provides a clear view from the check-in hall through the transit area and, at some locations, right up to the boarding gates.

*T4’s interior design is based on a symmetrical petal design, inspired by the orchid (Singapore’s national flower). This contemporary motif appears ubiquitously in various locations within T4, such
as on the skylights, marble flooring, carpets and even lift buttons to create a coherent design language intended to create a boutique feel.

*An abundance of skylights and glass walls allows a lot of natural light, which not only provides a naturally ambient daytime experience for passengers but also simulates a natural environment of plants and trees. The T4 landscaping covers 2,000sq m and is home to 186 large trees. Along the boarding corridor, 160 ficus (Weeping Fig) trees form a natural boulevard separating the boarding area from the common area at the departure gates.

*T4 also offers a “visually immersive and theatrical experience” featuring a range of curated art and entertainment features by local and international artists. The collection encapsulates T4’s “vibrant, fun and positively surprising” theme; passengers encounter an array of traditional art forms, such as sculptures, as well as kinetic and multimedia installations.

*T4 is home to three physical art sculptures, all depicting a common theme of travel or aviation. Local sculptor and Cultural Medallion winner Chong Fah Cheong created Hey Ah Chek!, installed at the Departure Check-in Hall, depicting a mother and her son hailing a trishaw ride after a typical visit to the market. Hands full with their baskets of fresh produce, it evokes nostalgia for the Singapore way of life in the 1950s.

Inspired by a transit experience in New York and later at Changi Airport, Kurt Metzler (Switzerland) captured the feelings of excitement and energy he and his family felt in his sculpture Travelling Family. Located airside, the set of sculptures is reminiscent of an airport scenario – a mixture of passengers and their children, all ready to embark on their next adventure.

Les Oiseaux (The Birds) by French artist Cedric Le Borgne is a collection of three avian sculptures, each with a different attitude, which greet passengers in the Arrival and Departure Halls. The larger-than-life birds are 3D-wire luminous characters that metaphorically represent the different emotions one would feel at an airport.

Art installation: Les Oiseaux (above), Travelling Family (below) and Hey Ah Chek! (bottom)

*As well as being “fun, vibrant and positively surprising,” and setting new standards for efficiency through technology, CAG wants T5 to be a test bed for its long-term Terminal 5 project. Although it will not open for over a decade, T5 will be around the size of T1, T2 and T3 combined. The smaller T4 with its technology-led innovations will become an early pilot for that facility.

* Nine airlines will operate at T4 – the Air Asia Group (four airlines), Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Korean Air, Spring Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. With T4’s opening Changi Airport’s total handling capacity increases to 82 million passengers per year.

The attractive array of dining brands is a key feature of the landside arena; (below) the wonderful range of seating styles and colours adds to the ambience at T4