During my business trip to Singapore, I decided to have a look at the grounds of the historic airport grounds of the city state. Before the days of legendary Changi Airport or even the artificial waterfall at the Jewel, the state’s air travel hub was located in a significantly more central location near the today’s Geylang district. I did not find too much information about the today’s state of the infrastructure apart from that some of it is still existing. I felt I had a really interesting walk, even if some parts were frustrating.
Kallang Airport – Location
Kallang Airport is located much more centrally than Changi, close to the new (and the old) National Stadium and Sports Complex. I also visited the Singapore Sports Museum in that area.
The easiest way to reach the the old airport facilities is by using the (green) East-West Subway Line station Kallang. You may also approach the airport from the South by using the (orange) Circle Line, Stadium station, and use an overpass. I used that overpass for some pictures. Apart from these transportation costs, there are no fees you need to pay to replicate my tour.
The terminal building is rarely opened for public by the Singapore Land Authority. I have too limited information about these events.
Kallang Airport – History of the Airport
Singapore Kallang Airport (also: Kallang Aerodrome or Kallang Airfield) was the first civil international airport of Singapore. It was built on reclaimed swampland and opened in 1937. It ceased operations in 1955. It was, however, not the first airport in Singapore: former RAF Seletar, which is nowadays Seletar Airport (which is still active for some scattered flights to Malaysia) opened as a military facility. After Kallang Airport was closed, civil aviation took place from Singapore International Airport at Paya Lebar, which is nowadays still a military airfield. In that era, Concorde flights between Singapore and London have been tested and been ceased short before the official operation. Changi, which still nowadays hosts the massive Singapore Air Travel hub, incepted operations in 1981. Here is an article about JEWEL, Changi’s latest attraction.
Kallang served quite an impressive list of destinations, including Heathrow, Rome, Los Angeles or Cairo. Of course, there was a long list of Asian destinations (mainy within Malaysia) and flights to Japan and Australia. After the aviation operations have been closed, the terminal has been used for multiple purposes, e.g. the 2011 Singapore Biennale Festival. Apart from that, it is closed to public.
Kallang Airport – My Today’s Views of the Site
When you arrive from Kallang subway station (as I did), you first reach the Main Gate structures of the former airport. There are quite some items which are well preserved, like a couple of lamps and the gate itself. There is even a piece of old road in average to bad condition – it is however dead end to both sides today and not connected to one of the roads around. This area is very popular among the locals, who like to use it for recreation.
Terminal Building Frontside
After crossing the Kallang Airport Way, you reach the site fences, which are generally in addition secured by barb wire. From that side, you still see quite a lot of the former facilities. The terminal building is in the center, with the East and West Wing buildings on each side. These buildings have formerly been used by the airlines as office space. There is a walk along the old terminal (facing to the National Stadium) on the East Side of the historic site, from which you can have some nice looks, especially on the terminal building.
Kallang Airport from Rear
There is also just a fence from the rear. This allows you to have a nice view of the terminal building as it used to face to the apron and runway.
However, you haven an even better view if you use the passenger bridge to National Stadium as an observation tower.
Surrounding the airport buildings on the Western side was somehow a disappointment, thogh. First you have some really nice views through the fence. However, this fence turns into a wall – at some parts, there is even a double wall. I am not sure about the intention, but it completely blocks the view on the Western Hangar, which feels to be quite well preserved, as pictures on other websites (taken during rare public openings) suggest.
While there are just very limited views on the Western facilities and the hangars, the Eastern facilities can be explored quite nicely, especially from the National Stadium Bridge.
The airport used to be linked with the former National Stadium by a passenger bridge as well (not the modern one). However, I could not spot that place, which I saw on some websites.
Today’s Impact of Kallang Airport
Impacts of the former Airport operation can still be easily found in the Kallang and Geylang district, where the airfield was located. For example, roads around the airport are named Kallang Airport Road, Kallang Airport Drive and Old Airport Road. The latter hosts one of the most prominent hawker centers of the city. But if you for example enter or exit the subway at Dakota, this is a reference to the Douglas DC-3 plane.
Kallang Airport – My View
For me as an aviation nerd, strolling around the old Kallang grounds and facilities (even though I could not get close to them) was an amazing experience. You feel a lot of history – and have to thank the local authorities that they preserve the buildings that well. However, I of course felt a bit sad. Having walls around major parts of the grounds may be necessary, but still feels unfortunate to me. I feel that building and areal has an amazing potential, e.g. as an aviation or transportation museum. I would definitely love to see that it is turned into a permanent functional use in the future.
Some additional information on Kallang Airport can be found on this website, which I also used as reference.