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Singapore Changi Airport in Covid-19

Changi Airport in the Covid-19 pandemic had seen its fair share of casualties, namely in the aviation sector where the demand for global air-travel literally slowed to a halt. The result are planes grounded and airport empty. How dreadful can such a scene be? Also considering that these are always busy 24/7 hubs in any city. Let’s see how is the situation is like in Singapore’s very own Changi airport. The scenes are chilling back during my visit last March.

Terminal 1, a look

Terminal 1 typically serves regional and medium haul flights. Visibly, airline check in counters remain empty while the baggage conveyors behind them all frozen. Also, the departure counters are all notable closed with no duty counter staff in sight.

Terminal 1 Changi Airport Covid-19
Welcome to Changi airport Terminal 1!

Notably, even the new machine self-check in counters and baggage areas are all empty, with their welcome greeting screens welcoming non-existent guests. Occasionally, you can see airport maintenance staff servicing the machines. All in the comfort of the serenity and lack of passenger distractions.

Empty dropoff area
Check-in machines
Empty service counters

The airport’s inter-terminal skytrains are still operating, even at regular frequency with notably little or no passengers at all. Also, it is not uncommon to see skytrains passing by and running through the Jewel mall completely devoid of passengers.

Changi Airport Covid-19 emptiness is surreal. Changi Airport Covid-19
The emptiness of Changi Airport during Covid-19 is surreal.

Furthermore, Cafes and eateries at the ends of the terminals floors are also notably closed. Escalators up to the upper floor lead you to rows of closed Food & Beverage outlets.

Service machines
Where is everyone?
Ghost counters

Lines of construction hording up here are also chillingly silent and devoid of any activity. Interestingly, the Terminal departure kinetic rain motorised sculpture is notable still operating, but only to the occasional passer-by.

Kinetic rain is still running, much to a missing audience
Kinetic rain is still running, much to a missing audience.

Terminal 2, a board of cancellations

Changi Airport Covid-19 Boards of cancellations is common here in all terminals
Boards of cancellations is common here in all terminals.

Moreover, the situation is no different in adjacent Terminal 2 too. The terminal’s departure hall spots a curved lit roof reflecting on the polished floors which gives the Terminal a more airy feel than Terminal 1.

Terminal 2 is due for a major renovation
Terminal 2 is due for a major renovation.

Additionally, Terminal 2 is home to the last remaining flip boards which displays flight info. This split-flap display is an electromechanical display device. It presents changeable alphanumeric text, and occasionally fixed graphics through the flipping of individual letters. It was the mainstay of the terminal since it opened and due to be replaced in a planned major upgrade.

The last working flip board in Singapore
The last working flip board in Singapore!

Moreover, speaking of boards, TV-screens littered all around the airport paints the same picture- Cancellations across the board. Occasionally you can see one or two flights still operating, but that is in the minority.

Terminal 2
Empty counters
The void

Notably, Terminal 2 is due for a major refurbishment towards the end of this year. Also, it would be a good time to utilise this low period to bring forward the Terminal closure and renovations.

Furthermore, the pandemic and the corresponding Malaysia’ Movement control order (MCO) had severely cut short much of Singapore foreign labour in Singapore. This also includes positions filled by our Malaysian friends. Sadly, many had to return home without work at short notice given the border control restrictions. Hence, this could explain why not many stores here can afford to remain open, with the lack of available manpower, let be customers.

Terminal 3 cavernous emptiness

The vast size of T3 does amplify the emptiness
The vast size of T3 does amplify the emptiness.

Terminal 3 is typically serves most long distance international flights, given more updated facilities and aerobridges to serve super jumbo jets, such as the A380. Unlike the smaller and more densely arranged Terminal 1 and 2.

Empty basement

Also, Terminal 3 visibly the quietest terminal of the bunch. It could be mainly because of it vastness of the departure area which amplifies the lack of human traffic here.

Terminal 3 departure "flying saucer", devoid of any travelers
Terminal 3 departure “flying saucer”, devoid of any travelers.

Once a terminal often buzzing with tens of flights arriving and boarding at any given time, it is unreal to see Terminal 3 completely empty today. Occasionally, you can spot a random airport staff member or security patrol making their rounds around the public areas of the terminal floor.

Flight cancellations
Empty MRT link bridge

From the departure floor, moreover, the baggage collection area visible from the departure floor are all standing still. Here,  rows and rows of unused luggage trolleys stacked in great lengths by the baggage carousel.

Changi Airport Covid-19 empty baggage area
All baggage carousels are at a standstill.

Empty Transit areas

A view of the Terminal transit area yields probably a lone traveller or two with luggage in-tow passing by every 15 minutes or so. Also, notably, this is contrary to the crowds which usually packed the halls at any given time of the day.

Terminal 3 Transit area paints the same story
Terminal 3 Transit area paints the same story.

Notably, some duty free shops are still open and operating, but with visibly no customers in any of the shops. Also, the transit area 24/7 food courts are all closed and shuttered.

Most transit areas stores are still open, with the food court closed
Most transit areas stores are still open, with the food court closed.

All in all, it is sad to see Changi Airport during the Covid-19 pandemic in such a sad state. I do hope the place does open up in no time, where life can start to return to normalcy.


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