Which Airport to Pick in Singapore for Business Aviation Flights

> | June 4, 2012 | 4 Comments
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This is a post by author Yvonne Chan. Yvonne is Managing Director for Universal Aviation Singapore, which has an aircraft ground-handling facility in Seletar. Yvonne is an expert on business aircraft operations in Singapore and can be contacted at yvonnechan@universalaviation.aero.

For business aircraft operators, airport options are attractive in Singapore, with full services available, but operating restrictions and aircraft parking availability may dictate choice of airfields. Singapore Changi (WSSS) requires airport slots and pushback for departure, and it can take time to travel from one point to another on this big airfield. On the other hand, Singapore Seletar (WSSL) has the advantage of being a smaller business aviation airfield, but runway length is shorter and no IFR approach is available. Work with your 3rd-party provider to determine the best option for your particular mission.

Here are some points of comparison between the two:

1. Both WSSS and WSSL are full-service airports and available for business aircraft

WSSS and WSSL are available to general-aviation (GA) aircraft. Both airports are about 30 minutes’ drive time from the central business district and easily reachable by taxi or pre-paid transportation with driver. WSSS is located east of the city and has a rail link, the MRT, which runs from very early morning until close to midnight, and connects the airport with most parts of the island. WSSL is located to the north with limited access to public transportation, but pre-paid transportation arrangements are available. WSSS has meeting rooms and short-term hotel rooms available for crew or passenger use, while WSSL has lounge facilities on site with renovation of the lounges planned in the next few months.

2. WSSL has less commercial traffic than WSSS, but no ILS approach

WSSS is a commercial airport, traffic is busier, and airline movements tend to take up the majority of arrival/departure airport slots. Air Traffic Control and fuel services give priority to scheduled commercial operations. WSSL has little commercial traffic and the facility is very business aviation friendly. Keep in mind that WSSL has no ILS approach available.

3. WSSS doesn’t have curfews, WSSL does

While WSSS is a 24-hour airport without operating curfews, hours are more restrictive at WSSL. Runway closures at WSSL occur between 0001-0700 local on the first Saturday of every month (or the second Saturday if the first Saturday is a public holiday). During this time, the runway is closed to all traffic with the exceptions of medevac and emergency flights. Advance notice is needed for the emergency opening of a runway. Between 0001-0200 local every Wednesday and Saturday, the runway is closed at WSSL to all traffic except medevac and emergency flights. Noise restrictions at both airports limit operations to Stage 3 and above.

4. WSSS experiences peak operating hours

WSSS experiences arrival peak hours for scheduled commercial traffic between 0305-0400, 0805-1000 and 1305-1500 UTC. Departure peak hours at WSSS are 2205-0300 and 1205-1400 UTC.

5. Airport slots and prior permission required (PPR) are needed for WSSS

You must have an airport slot when operating to and from WSSS, and airport slots will not be approved during peak hours of operation. It’s important to adhere to approved airport slots times. Failure to do so may result in the operator being put into a holding pattern or told to divert. PPRs are required for all non-scheduled operations regardless of aircraft size due to limited parking availability. PPR approval is granted on a case-by- case basis and subject to parking availability.

6. Landing permits are required for charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations for both airports

Landing permits are required for charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights and medevac flights into both Singapore airports. Landing permit requirements include a minimum of seven days lead time and documentation, including worldwide insurance and an air operator certificate (AOC) utilizing ICAO format. No landing permit is required for a fuel stop or crew change stop so long as no passengers board or disembark the aircraft in Singapore.

7. Aircraft parking is limited at both airports

WSSS has an aircraft parking area behind the freight terminal (called S.A.D.A) for aircraft up to the size of a Bombardier Global Express or Gulfstream G550. There’s separate aircraft parking at WSSS for larger aircraft. Keep in mind that WSSS airport slots may not be favorable, and airport slot availability may affect any last-minute plans to reposition. At WSSL, aircraft parking is normally limited to three hours, and this should always be confirmed. It can be extended with arrangements made in advance, subject to availability. At either airport, extended stays may not be possible.

8. Infrastructure is good at both airports, but hangar space is usually not available

Tarmac, taxiways, and runways at both airports are in good condition and well- maintained. No hangar space is available at WSSS, while hangars at WSSL are exclusively for maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) usage or occupied by local operators.

9. Clearing customs happens at the GA terminal at both airports for a fee, with some exceptions

At both airports, passengers will be taken to the GA terminal, where they’ll report to immigration. Valid passports and arrival-immigration cards are required, and visas may be applicable, depending on nationality. Your ground handler can prepare arrival cards prior to your arrival if required information is provided in advance. Customs clearance is not possible on or near the aircraft. While it’s compulsory for passengers to clear through the GA terminal at WSSS with an associated charge, depending on the number of passengers using the facility, crew may opt to clear customs at the main terminal at no charge. If the crew opts to use the main terminal, they’ll clear immigration via the crew lines to avoid clearing with passengers that have arrived on scheduled commercial flights. For tech stops where crew and passengers stay onboard, no GA terminal fee is applicable.

10. Local transportation options are the same at both airports

Taxis, pre-paid transportation with driver, and rental vehicles are available at both airports. Rental vehicles can be coordinated with advance notice. Pick up/drop off at planeside is not possible at either airport.

11. In-flight catering, jet fuel, and other services can be easily arranged at both airports with advance arrangement

In-flight caterers are on location at WSSS but not at WSSL. Your ground hander can source and provide catering menus to operators in advance. Just about anything is possible in Singapore in terms of in-flight catering options, with adequate notice. It’s best to work with your ground handler in advance regarding jet fuel uplift coordination, pre-paid ground transportation, and ramp access if required.

12. Both airports are secure

High security measures are deployed at both airports to control access. The airport- security situation is very good and most operators do not engage private security services when on the ground in Singapore.

Conclusion

Aside from parking availability issues and long lead times for charter permits, Singapore offers excellent airfield alternatives, services, and operating flexibility for corporate operators. Beware of curfew hours at WSSL as well as peak time operating restrictions at WSSS when choosing which airport option is best for your next trip to Singapore.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article, contact me at yvonnechan@universalaviation.aero.

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About

Yvonne Chan has nearly two decades of experience in business aviation and is an expert on ground and flight operations in Singapore. Yvonne, who first joined Universal in 1992, currently serves as Country Manager for Universal Aviation Singapore, where she has been instrumental in helping Universal Aviation establish other locations in the Asia-Pacific region. Based in Singapore, Yvonne is fluent in English, Mandarin and several local dialects. Yvonne can be reached at yvonnechan@universalaviation.aero.

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