Home' Asian Aviation : AAV February 2019 Contents 24 AsianAviation | February 2019
SINGAPORE’S AMBITIONS TO BECOME a business aviation hub
in Southeast Asia got a boost at the end of 2018 when operations at
its new Seletar passenger terminal got underway. The two-storey,
10,000 square metre facility was launched by the country ’s transport
minister, Khaw Boon Wan, who said in November that “passengers,
including those on chartered and private jets will enjoy bigger, better
facilities and easier transition from airside to landside”.
What he didn’t say at the time is that Civil Aviation Authority of Sin-
gapore (CAAS) would implement a night curfew in January and that a
proposed instrument landing system (ILS) would spark a dispute with
neighbouring Malaysia that could also curtail operations at Seletar.
CAAS said the night curfew would be in force from 1400-2300
UTC (10pm to 7am local time) and was being implemented because
residents living near the airport complained about noise. The only
exceptions will be for medical and emergency flights.
The move has ground handlers concerned that restricting night
flights will cut into the revenues and plans to have commercial tur-
boprop operate from Seletar will also cut into revenues for service
providers to the business aviation sector. Universal Aviation, for
example, said the curfew and scheduled turboprop flights will cut
into business aviation operations and could see Seletar resort to
becoming a slots airport.
Universal’s managing director, Yvonne Chan, told Asian Aviation
if that were to happen, users could game the system and book
slots they didn’t need or book more than required. Users are trying
to convince CAAS to at least shorten the curfew hours to 11pm to
6am to free up a couple more hours and because many business
jet operators land at night.
“I can’t speak for the rest, but everybody is trying to work around
the curfew,” Chan added, saying the CAAS has not decided whether
to shorten the curfew or not. “ We brought this up at CAAS to see if
they will shorten the hours and they said they will look into this and
come back to us after they monitor it for three months.”
Meanwhile, Singapore’s efforts to establish itself as the top avi-
ation hub in Southeast Asia by expanding Seletar ’s air operations
have run into a diplomatic standoff with Malaysia. Officials in Kuala
Lumpur claim the creation of an ILS zone for Seletar will hamper
plans for tall buildings in southern Johor, a Malaysian state on the
other side of a narrow body of water separating the two countries,
over which some Seletar flights travel.
Singapore, like other countries in the region, is working hard to
maintain its lead in airport capacity to deal with the surging numbers
of air travellers flying into, around, and out of Asia. Hong Kong, Bang-
kok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur are just some of the cities working
to expand their airports. Singapore’s Changi Airport plans to add a
fifth terminal by 2030 and a third runway in the early 2020s and has
been using Seletar as a way to give Changi some room to breathe.
Seletar extended its runway by 250 meters in 2011 to support bigger
planes like the turboprops that will use it and the new US$80 million
terminal was built to handle 700,000 passengers per year, compared
to the 26,700 passengers previously.
The ILS planned by Singapore raised concerns in Malaysia be-
cause the government says the new landing system would require
a safety buffer on the flight path, which would affect construction
activities in the fast developing Pasir Gudang region of Johor state.
Malaysia’s transport minister, Anthony Loke, said his country want-
ed to regain control of airspace over southern Johor. Based on a
bilateral agreement between the two neighbours, Singapore has
provided the area’s air traffic control services since 1974. In response,
Singapore’s transport minister said “I think the situation seems to
be using this technical excuse to trigger demand, to change the
airspace arrangement which was brokered by International Civil
Aviation Organisation long, long ago, which has worked very well,
benefiting all stakeholders in this region.”
Industry analysts said it makes no sense for Malaysia to change
the airspace management agreement because more aircraft fly
into Singapore than into Johor ’s Senai Airport, which is the closest
international airport. They also said Malaysia’s air traffic control track
record is spotty and needs to be improved.
Singapore has officially opened its new
US$80 million terminal at Seletar Airport,
but a new curfew and an airspace spat
with Malaysia has some operators
worried. Matt Driskill explains.
▲ The yellow line in the right-hand corner shows the border between
Malaysia and Singapore’s Seletar Airport.
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