Seletar Airport set to get bigger and better

Seletar Airport set to get bigger and better
Seletar airport as seen on 21 November 2014. The airport will be torn down to make way for a bigger facility that will be able to serve more passengers.

THE spartan single-storey passenger terminal at Seletar Airport will be torn down when a new two-storey facility with better amenities is ready in the middle of 2017.

It will have a lounge and separate handling area for private jet passengers, as well as food and beverage outlets - facilities not available now, The Straits Times has learnt.

When the new terminal opens, Seletar Airport, which now handles mainly private and pilot training flights, will also serve turboprop operators who will have to move out of Changi Airport.

Malaysian budget carrier Firefly is currently the only airline at Changi that flies turboprops.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is working with Seletar Airport's operator, Changi Airport Group, to finalise details of the new passenger terminal building, a CAAS spokesman said.

She did not say when the new facility will open or where exactly it will be located.

However, several aerospace firms at Seletar Aerospace Park, where the airport is located, said they understand that it will not be at the same site but across the runway near the airport's new control tower.

The Seletar upgrade aims to establish Singapore, already a major hub for commercial carriers like Singapore Airlines, as a centre for private jets as well.

Moving turboprop operations there is also necessary to free up capacity at Changi Airport to cope with a growing number of flights and passengers.

For safety reasons, smaller planes, including turboprops, need a greater separation distance from other aircraft when taking off or landing, aviation experts said.

In some cases, two landing slots are needed for one turboprop aircraft, which means less runway efficiency, they added. Firefly, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines which operates 67 weekly flights from Singapore to three cities in Malaysia - Subang, Ipoh, Kuantan - could not be contacted for official comment.

But airline staff based here said there are concerns that the move to Seletar Airport could cause inconvenience to customers.

Said a staff member: "We have customers who fly in from Europe, for example, and connect to our flights at Changi Airport. So we are now in discussions with the airport to see how we can facilitate movement between Changi and Seletar without our passengers being inconvenienced."

For aerospace firms located at Seletar, however, the upgrades are welcome and long overdue, especially given growing traffic.

Passenger numbers went up from 22,000 in 2013 to 24,000 last year; and in the first three months of this year, total traffic had already hit 7,000.

The growth is attracting new firms such as ExecuJet, which plans to open an office at Seletar early next year.

Its chief executive officer Gerrit Basson said: "We were eager to establish a presence in Singapore because of its access to some of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world, and its location makes it an ideal staging point for short- and long-haul aircraft."

ExecuJet, which offers charters and manages private jets for clients, has already received inquiries from businesses and high- net-worth individuals in the region, he said.

Jet Aviation, which has been in Singapore for almost two decades, is looking forward to the Seletar improvements, said its general manager here, Mr John Riggir.

He said: "There have already been some improvements made, like more aircraft parking bays, and the new passenger terminal will certainly raise the standards of the private jet and business aviation market here.

"The sooner the upgrades to the rundown terminal, the better."

This article was first published on Jun 9, 2015.
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