Singapore's airport goes for retail high with billion-dollar mall

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)

A sprawling retail complex with the world's tallest indoor waterfall is what Singapore hopes will bring more travelers and visitors to the airport to shop and dine.

As global competition for travelers heats up in the aviation industry, Singapore's Changi Airport is set to open its S$1.7 billion ($1.3 billion) Jewel complex on April 17.

"(We want to) provide a wide range of amenities that allows the passenger to make the best use of their time as they transit through us," Jayson Goh, managing director, airport operations management at Changi, told a news conference. The airport also aims to attract domestic visitors and tourists to its shops, cinemas and food and beverage outlets.

Housed under a dome of glass and steel, the building spread over 135,700 square meters is designed by Moshe Safdie, the architect known for the Marina Bay Sands resort, a boat-shaped landmark that has become synonymous with Singapore's skyline.

Changi Airport, recently voted in a Skytrax survey as the world's best for the seventh year running, reported a record 65.6 million passenger movements in 2018.

Sharon Ng, who teaches marketing at Nanyang Technological University's business school, said the concept was unique as other airports mainly target travelers and don't have the scale of retail that Jewel does.

A joint venture between Changi Airport and Singapore developer CapitaLand, Jewel adds 53,600 square meters of retail space in the wealthy city-state.

Scores of visitors lined up on Thursday at the pre-opening for a glimpse of the Rain Vortex, a 40-metre tall waterfall that pours rainwater from the center of the glass and steel dome.

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