Singapore opened Wednesday a new state-of-the-art airport terminal, with features including an indoor garden and waterfalls, in a bid to strengthen the city-state's status as a regional air hub.
Changi Airport Terminal 3, built at a cost of $1.22. billion (1.75 billion Singapore dollars), will expand the airport's annual capacity by 22 million to 70 million passengers a year.
Terminal 3 started operations with its first arrival from San Francisco and first departure to London, both on Singapore Airlines. Arriving passengers were greeted with a traditional lion dance performance and adorned with orchid garlands.
The seven-story terminal has 28 aerobridge gates — eight of which are designed to handle a new generation of large, double-decker passenger jets like the Airbus A380.
A vertical garden of climbing plants and four waterfalls spans 984 feet inside the main building, which also features a roof with over 900 skylights and reflector panels that automatically allow an optimum amount of natural light while keeping out the tropical heat.
As a regional air transportation hub, Singapore's Changi Airport faces competition from neighbors such as Thailand and Malaysia.