Changi Airport chief assures no job cuts amid massive T4 automation

Changi Airport Group (CAG) chief executive Seow Hiang Lee says workforce at Terminal 4 is about 10 to 20 per cent less than Terminal 3.

changi airport terminal 4
Airport staff and workers gather at Changi Airport's Terminal 4 facade to mark the completion of construction (Changi Airport)

Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 officially opens Tuesday, October 31 and the management has been taking pride in the new air terminal for its cutting-edge automated technologies. From the check-in counter to boarding, machine-controlled components are everywhere to help out the human workforce in accommodating travellers all over the globe. Amid this advancement, manpower seems to become a diminishing necessity at Terminal 4.

Changi Airport Group (CAG) chief executive Seow Hiang Lee says workforce at Terminal 4 is about 10 to 20 per cent less than Terminal 3. The company has around 1,800 employees including 500 in the Airport Emergency Service.

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The reduction of manpower by numbers at Terminal 4 could be a clear indication that IT and robots have threatened the need for humans at work. However, Lee has repeatedly underscored that there was no immense destruction of jobs happening in this scenario, adding that jobs did not vanish into thin air, but rather the nature of jobs has changed.

For instance, check-in counter staff are now customer service personnel helping travellers going through self-checkin and automated immigration officers. These do not work alone as there are IT and technical staff working with these machines.

changi airport terminal 4 self-check in kiosks
Changi Airport Terminal 4 has a total of 65 automated check-in kiosks and 50 automated bag drop machines equipped with the Facial Recognition System (Changi Airport)

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Boasting half a million plants at Terminal 4, a team of horticulturalists and landscape professionnel are maintaining and looking after them. Supervisors guide cleaning robots, and staff keep art and creative pieces squeaky clean and in the right order of display.

Lee notes robots, computers and everything automated are part of human progress where adoption kicks in to keep up with the advancements. Hence, the Higher Education and Skills office of the Ministry of Education has new initiatives in partnership with Singapore's academic institutions to prepare citizens for a dynamic future, he noted.