What does FT mean in Singapore

Due to its location on the Strait of Malacca, between India and China, as well as in the center of Southeast Asia, Singapore has been an important trading post in the region since it was founded in 1819. In the 21st century, Singapore is now one of the most important transport hubs worldwide, for both travelers and cargo.

A traffic hub is a traffic hub. This works according to the hub-and-spoke principle, i.e. routes run like the spokes of a wheel around a central turnstile. This principle, introduced by Delta Airlines and FedEx in the late 1970s, has the advantage that it bundles people and goods for onward transport at a central location (the hub). This results in a higher capacity utilization and therefore fewer empty transports, which in turn reduces costs. A disadvantage, however, is that the route with a feeder flight via the hub may take longer than a direct flight to the destination.

Singapore's success as a transport hub is due on the one hand to the quality of the port and airport, and on the other to Singapore's geographic location. As already mentioned, Singapore is located in the center of Southeast Asia, which keeps the feeder routes from all parts of Southeast Asia relatively small. In addition, it is in a good position between Eurasia and Australia / Oceania, which makes it ideal to be a transfer or transit point for travelers. Today, half of the world's population lives in an area that can be reached in under a seven-hour flight from Singapore. Perhaps the most important location advantage of the city-state with regard to its port is its location on the Strait of Malacca, the bottleneck between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea or the Pacific. The Strait of Malacca represents a bottleneck in world trade between India, the Gulf States and Europe on the one hand and China, Japan and South Korea on the other. The rapid economic rise of Japan and South Korea after the Second World War and the current rise of China to a “workbench the world ”ensured that Singapore became one of the most important global centers for the handling of goods.

The port of Singapore, which we were unfortunately unable to visit due to Covid-19, is therefore not only a place for global goods handling, but also has a logistical hub function within Southeast Asia. The port is the longest seaport in the world and has the capacity to load up to 2000 containers from a ship within 12 hours. The port employs 180,000 people, almost 10% of Singapore's potential workers. The more than 130,000 ships of over 200 shipping companies that moor each year connect the port with over 600 others in over 120 countries. The container throughput of over 30 million TEU (Twenty Feet Equivilent Unit) makes Singapore, together with Hong Kong, the largest container port in the world. Since the mid-1980s, the two ports have been alternating at the top. The port is also one of the most important transshipment points for petroleum / products (50% of the world's annual turnover). The port was one of the main reasons for Singapore's impressive development and a driving force of economic growth, especially shortly after independence. The biggest problem for Singapore's port at the moment is that there is hardly any space left for further growth. Since 2000, this has led to continued overloading of the infrastructure and space capacities. In response to this, new ports were built in Malaysia in the immediate vicinity of Singapore (including Port Tanjung Pelepas), which have since experienced spectacular growth and within a very short time rose to become the largest ports in Malaysia and today represent serious competition for the port of Singapore. As a result, Singapore's largest port operator, PSA, began developing and expanding a new port area on the western edge of the island (Tuas) in close cooperation with the government. A new, ultra-modern container port with a capacity of up to 65 million TEU is to be built here at the south-western tip of Singapore. A lot of space was gained through the filling of new land, so that new berths with a total length of 23 km can be created and the port will have a total area of ​​2500 soccer fields. Wharf cranes and vehicles will be automated, and the terminals will also be designed for even larger, more modern ships. The three city terminals (Tanjong Pagar, Keppel and Brani) are to be relocated to Tuas in 2027 and the Pasir Panjang terminals are to follow in 2040. This frees up large areas in a prime city-center location, and unit costs can be further reduced by avoiding transport between the different terminals.

Due to its already described location, Singapore is also ideally suited as an air hub, i.e. as a transfer airport that has a large catchment area and a high level of centrality in the region. An airhub is characterized by a large number of different destinations that are flown to with high frequency and also has a very high number of passengers, a high proportion of transfer traffic and special infrastructure for transit.

In Singapore, due to the rapid development after independence, what was then Paya Lebar Airport quickly became too small, which is why the government decided to build Changi Airport in 1975. Since Singapore was already suffering from space problems at that time, the new airport was to be built for the most part on a newly filled area outside the city. Changi Airport opened in 1981 and had one terminal with a capacity of 12 million passengers per year, a second runway was added in 1983, and Terminal 2 was built in 1986-1991 to further increase the airport's capacity. Changi Airport pursues the strategy of being an air hub for all of Southeast Asia and, above all, of acting as a transit airport between Europe, East Asia and Australia / Oceania. It is essential to have your own airline that flies to as many destinations as possible around the world. Therefore, Singapore Airlines (SIA) was founded in 1972. In order to enable SIA to have as many connections and destinations as possible as quickly as possible, Singapore follows the policy of the Open Skies Agreement. This means that Singapore grants other airlines free access to Changi in return for take-off and landing rights at the respective home airport of the foreign airlines. As a result, SIA quickly developed into a top airline, which is an advantage over the airports in Malaysia and Thailand. These became bigger competitors, especially in the 1990s, as they are in a similar location. In order to maintain its position as the leading air hub in Southeast Asia, the passenger fee for transit passengers was abolished in 1999 and a metro line was opened to the airport in 2002, which has since been reached from the city center in just 20 minutes. In order to be able to guarantee the best service and fast and easy transit and thus remain number 1 internationally, Changi is pursuing the strategy of infrastructure oversupply, ie the airport starts to increase its capacity by building new terminals before the maximum capacity of the existing terminals is reached is. Terminals 3 and 4 were opened in 2008 and 2017, respectively, increasing the total capacity to 82 million passengers. In many other Asian airports, the number of passengers often exceeds the available capacity, which means longer transit times and poorer service.

The other strategy that has set Changi apart from the competition since the late 1990s is to develop the airport itself into a tourist destination in its own right with various attractions. This began with the opening of the first swimming pool in a transit terminal in the world in 1997 and led to the construction of the butterfly garden and the work of art “Kinetic Rain” through to the construction of the “Jewel” between Terminals 1 to 3. The Jewel is a Entertainment and retail complex opened in 2019 with the world's largest indoor waterfall in the middle. A huge glass dome hangs above this complex, which resembles a tropical rainforest in the above-ground part, in the middle of which the waterfall falls. Apart from that, Jewel also ensures a shorter transit time by connecting the terminals.

The strategy seems to be working. 60% of Changi's income does not come from aviation (aviation fees, etc.). In 2019, Changi had a load factor of 68.3 million passengers (83%), the average annual growth is currently around 5.4%. This very moderate occupancy is probably one of the reasons why Changi Airport wins awards from the international aviation industry almost every year. Changi will continue to grow in the future. Asia is the largest growth market in air travel and Singapore will be ready for it with the biggest expansion in 30 years, the Changi East project under construction. The area of ​​the airport will be increased by 1000 hectares through the filling of new land, a third runway and a new terminal (T5) will also be built.