Singapore Grand Prix – Operating Tips
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Singapore hosts the Formula One Grand Prix once again this year with the event taking place September 18-20 at the Marina Bay street circuit. The winding race course around Marina Bay involves 61 laps of the 5.065- circuit and is expected to attract domestic spectators in addition to international General Aviation (GA) flights.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Primary airports
Changi Int.’l (WSSS) and Seletar (WSSL) are available for GA operations to Singapore with drive times to the city center of just 20 and 30 minutes, respectively. Both WSSS and WSSL are 24-hour airports of entry with full handling, support services, and available credit. For many GA operators, WSSL is the recommended airport as this location does not have the GA parking restrictions that WSSS does.
No airport slots or prior permissions required are necessary for operation to WSSL. In addition to a full range of handling services, WSSL has fuel that is delivered via trucks and also provides in-flight catering. Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance is conducted inside a small terminal, and the process is relatively quick. Currently, there are very few scheduled commercial operations into WSSL, and congestion at the CIQ facility is rare. Parking is located on either side of the single runway, making for a varied ramp travel time. Depending on where you are parked, parking can take between five and 10 minutes. WSSL runway length is somewhat limited at 6,024 feet, and the airfield does not have an Instrument Landing System (ILS) at this time.
3. WSSL operating restrictions
WSSL is a 24-hour airport, but there are days when the single runway is closed for regular maintenance. This maintenance occurs every Tuesday and Friday between 1600 and 1800 UTC. There is a longer closure between 1600 and 2300 UTC on the first Friday of the month. In the event that the first Friday is a public holiday, the long closure will then take place on the following Friday. During the maintenance closure, the runway closes to all traffic except air ambulance and emergency flights. Additionally, the runway closes for daily inspections between 0500 and 0515 UTC, 1030 and 1045 UTC, and 2300 and 2315 UTC. Operational delays can be expected at these times.
Airport slots are needed for WSSS and have deviations of +/- one hour. Note that airport authorities want operators to be as close as possible to approved slot times. Slots for WSSS are requested via an online system but may not be requested more than seven days in advance. It’s important to be aware of GA parking restrictions at WSSS. Airport authorities recommend that private non-revenue flights limit parking to a maximum of 48 hours, whereas charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations are discouraged from using this airfield. In most cases charter flights are only permitted to remain on the ground up to three hours at WSSS. For longer stays you’ll need to reposition to WSSL or to an airfield outside the country. Sultan Ismail Int.’l (WMKJ) is just across the border in Malaysia, 18 nautical miles from WSSL, and can be considered a parking alternate. CIQ is cleared at WSSS within the commercially important passenger terminal, and charges apply to use this facility. Clearing CIQ at WSSS is a relatively quick and efficient process, but it depends on where you’re parked. In general GA aircraft are parked on remote stands located throughout the airport. Ramp travel time varies between five and 10 minutes depending on other aircraft movement. WSSS has two runways that are each 13,123 feet in length and comes complete with ILS. GA aircraft are requested to avoid operating between 2300 and 0200 UTC and 0800 and 1100 UTC daily. There are also scheduled runway closures for regular maintenance, but this is done one runway at a time. All the same at such times, expect operational delays to hamper departure schedules. It’s recommended that operators confirm peak congestion periods in advance, with their 3rd-party provider or local ground handler, to be aware of possible delays.
5. Visa requirements
Singapore requires visas for certain nationalities. If visas are needed, they must be obtained prior to arrival. Note that visa requirements apply to both crew members and passengers of private non-revenue flights. Your ground handler may apply for visas on your behalf, but advance notice is required. In the case of a charter operation – so long as it’s a revenue flight and a charter permit has been obtained – no visas are needed for crew members regardless of nationality or length of stay. For more information on visas for Singapore, see the High Commission of the Republic of Singapore website.
6. Charter permits
All charter operators require permits for travel to Singapore. You will need both an Air Operations Permit and an Air Transport permit arranged in advance. For more information on these requirements, please see our article: Bizjet Operations into Singapore – Part 2: Permits and CIQ.
7. Hotel considerations
Hotel accommodations are always in high demand during Singapore Grand Prix event periods. During this time we anticipate higher-than-normal room prices and no-cancellation policies. Some hotels – particularly those in the popular Marina Bay area – will have special access requirements or will take longer to reach due to closures for the race. This could present occasional challenges/delays in moving to/from your hotel, so it’s recommended that you speak to your ground handler or 3rd-party provider to confirm.
8. Local transport
Singapore has an excellent public transport and taxi system, and it’s generally very easy to travel around this island nation. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train system is a particularly efficient means of moving about Singapore. We do not recommend renting vehicles due to traffic congestion, road closures, and limited parking options during the Grand Prix period. Should you wish to arrange pre-paid transport (car with driver), it’s best to make these arrangements well in advance. Note that while public transport, MRT, and taxi options are very good between WSSS and the central district, these options are much more restrictive in the case of WSSL. WSSL is in a somewhat isolated location where it’s more challenging to find public taxis. If you land at WSSL, always have your ground handler arrange pre-paid transport or confirm taxi transport in advance. Do note that taxis here are metered, and surcharges are applicable depending on the time of day.
If you’re heading to Singapore for the 2015 Grand Prix, it’s important to confirm aircraft parking and hotel arrangements as soon as schedule is known. While we recommend WSSL for most GA operations – due to more flexible parking options and no airport slot requirements – it’s important to be mindful of routine weekly runway closures that occur at this location. Also, note that WSSS has aircraft parking restrictions for GA and air traffic delays.
Universal and Universal Aviation are not associated in any way with the Formula One group of companies. F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX, and related marks are trademarks of Formula One Licensing B.V.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Singapore, contact me at email@example.com.