Tuesday, March 11, 2008

T1 T2 T3 T4

What's the big hoo-haa over plans for the new Terminal 4 at Changi Airport? The Singapore government has been known to plan for future way ahead of time. I remember when I was in school back in 1981, I had a teacher whose husband was a civil engineer working on Singapore's then spanking new airport to replace Paya Lebar Airport. She let out what her husband had told her that even as T1 was about to be opened for business, T3 was already on the drawing board. Changi Airport started operations in 1982. Well, T3 was only opened this year, on 9 January 2008, some 27 years after I first heard of it.

Maybe the timescale has shifted and T4 might become a reality earlier, but it certainly won't be in this decade or the next. So any talk of it now, how it will look like, how big it is going to be, how it would be necessary in the light of the competition, etc., etc. is premature. Things will definitely be different, say, in 20 years' time. Then we will know if our assumptions today 'hold any water'. Certainly there will be things we never expect today. The economic environment may have changed. Will Asia's attractiveness be in decline? Will South America become the world's engine of growth, taking over from the US what it is today? Perhaps some things never change - the greed, the enmity and age-old wars and conflicts. But flash points will change.

Will air travel even be relevant given the pace at which technology advances. Today, we can tele-conference with people half way across the world. Add in virtual reality and you can probably also shake your counterparts' virtual hands, and virtually feel it. Is there even a need to meet face to face? Is there a need to fly? Sure, some people travel on business not just for business alone but throw in the pleasure along the way, like visiting casinos. But in time to come, you wouldn't even need to visit Las Vegas for that roll of the dice - gambling would have gone high-tech and virtual by then.

I am sure somebody is analyzing these scenarios to predict and prepare for the future. T4 is just one of the imaginary models in these analyses. There is still time - at least 20 years of it. T4 blueprints will certainly morph on the drawing board over time. How it morphs remains to be seen.

Image source: morgueFile.com. Author: Scott Liddell

No comments :