Lee Seow Hiang to stand down as CEO of Changi Airport Group on 1 July

By Luke Barras-hill |

Singapore Changi Airport’s Chief Executive Officer Lee Seow Hiang is set to leave after 15 years in the post, Changi Airport Group (CAG) has announced.

Lee Seow Hiang will step down as the head of the Asia Pacific hub and simultaneously as Director of the CAG Board and Chairman of the boards of Changi Airports International (CAI) and Jewel Changi Airport Devt. on 1 July.

As the founding CEO of CAG when Changi Airport was corporatised on 1 July 2009, Lee has been the driving force behind the airport’s explosive growth into a premier air travel hub that today serves more than 150 destinations worldwide and is the most internationally connected in South East Asia.

During his time at the helm, Lee has spearheaded the operation to significant milestones, including the launch of Terminal 4, the upgrading and expansion of Terminals 1 and 2 and the development of Jewel Changi Airport, which opened in 2019.

The infrastructure projects have increased Changi Airport’s handling capacity by 23% to 90 million passenger movements per annum.

Lee Seow Hiang: “The last 15 years have been an exhilarating journey of building the best air hub for Singapore.”

“Gift of grace and a privilege of a lifetime”

His tenure has also resulted in enhancements at the terminals to improve the Changi experience for passengers, while the foundations of the future Changi East development, including T5, have been laid.

Groundbreaking is due to take place next year in line with the resumption of work following a two-year pandemic-related pause.

Tan Gee Paw, Chairman of CAG, said: “The Board Directors and I thank Seow Hiang for his immense contributions to CAG and Changi Airport. In the last decade and a half, Seow Hiang’s vision transformed Changi into the airport it is today – a strong air hub with an extensive network of city links, providing an extraordinary experience and supporting Singapore’s economy.

“As CEO, Seow Hiang kept CAG financially strong, and stable during the pandemic years. We are especially appreciative of his management during the Covid-19 period which saw travel demand plummet and CAG’s business fundamentals severely impacted.

“Despite the many challenges, Seow Hiang, with the support of his colleagues and airport partners, steered the company through the crisis and we have emerged in better shape. It is to the credit of CAG’s management team led by Seow Hiang that Changi Airport’s passenger traffic has already surpassed 2019’s pre-pandemic levels in February and March 2024.”

In related news, CAG has appointed Yam Kum Weng to succeed Lee as CEO and will take up the positions of Director of the CAG Board and Chairman of the CAI Board, effective 1 July 2024.

Currently CAG’s Executive Vice President, Airport Development, Kum Weng is responsible for leading the Changi East project, including Terminal 5.

Tan added: “In considering a replacement for Seow Hiang, the Board carefully reviewed its options, recognising that Changi Airport is a critical infrastructure, and leadership continuity is vital to take forward CAG’s plans. A key undertaking for CAG is the mega-development of Changi East and T5 which is entering a critical phase in the coming years. At the same time, CAG faces the challenge of ensuring smooth airport operations as passenger traffic at Changi Airport continues to recover post-Covid.

Yam Kum Weng, CAG’s Executive Vice President, Airport Development, has been named as the new CEO of Changi Airport Group.

“The Board is confident that Kum Weng, as a senior executive with many years of experience leading Singapore’s air hub development and airport management in both the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and CAG, is best suited to anchor the twin challenges of running an operationally-intensive airport while ensuring the success of the Changi East/ T5 programme.

“He has a deep appreciation of the interests of the Singapore air hub and Changi Airport’s strategic role, and strong operational experience to ensure Changi Airport continues to run smoothly.

“With his strong ties with aviation partners, Kum Weng is well-placed to work synergistically with them to grow Changi Airport as a key air hub and a leading international airport.

Lee added: “It has been a gift of grace and a privilege of a lifetime to be a member of this special Changi community for these incredible years.

“The last 15 years have been an exhilarating journey of building the best air hub for Singapore. We worked hard to double the size and vibrancy of our air hub to almost 70 million passengers a year but lost it all during the Covid years. Yet, we kept our fundamentals strong and today, we are emerging stronger on our full recovery.

“Through it all, we endeavoured to build CAG as a company that grows all the people who walk through her corridors, putting fun into our hub fundamentals, and bringing joy, wonder and delight to all whom we serve. We have given every ounce of energy to this task and the journey continues.

“This is a journey to be built, not just travelled, and I am leaving with the deepest confidence that, under Kum Weng’s leadership, the best days for the Changi air hub are yet to be. And as they say: sometimes reality exceeds even our biggest dreams.”

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