Singapore airport to get billion-dollar terminal boost

Singapore's Changi Airport, considered one of the best in the world, said on Friday it will boost passenger handling capacity by around 25 percent with a fourth terminal that will cost an estimated S$1.28 billion ($1.03 billion).

The Southeast Asian city-state, one of the main Asian gateways for international travelers, said construction of Terminal 4 (T4) would begin this year with completion expected in 2017.

The terminal will be able to handle 16 million passengers a year, raising Changi's handling capacity to 82 million a year. Changi last year handled a record 51 million passengers, a 10 percent increase over 2011.

"Changi Airport has always stayed ahead of its capacity needs. This approach has underpinned Changi's success as an air hub," CEO Lee Seow Hiang said in a statement.

Parliament is currently debating a white paper that envisages a dramatic increase in immigration that would boost the island's population by as much as 30 percent to 6.9 million by 2030.

Changi is widely regarded as one of the world's best airports. It has received more than 420 accolades since it opened in 1981 and recent honours include Business Traveller magazine's award for Best Airport in the World.

($1 = S$1.23)

(Reporting by Kevin Lim; Editing by Nick Macfie)