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Concerns raised over lack of public transport serving new Seletar Airport passenger terminal

SINGAPORE — The new S$80 million Seletar Airport passenger terminal is on track to open by the end of the year, but concerns have been raised about the facility's accessibility, given the dearth of public transport options for now.

Concerns raised over lack of public transport serving new Seletar Airport passenger terminal

The facade of the new Seletar Airport passenger terminal.

SINGAPORE — The new S$80 million Seletar Airport passenger terminal is on track to open by the end of the year, but concerns have been raised about the facility's accessibility, given the dearth of public transport options for now.

"We are concerned about (the lack of public transport), and in fact have communicated with CAG (Changi Airport Group) regarding partnerships with ground transport companies," said a Firefly spokesperson.

The low-cost carrier, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, currently operates 20 daily turboprop flights to and from Subang, Ipoh and Kuantan at Changi Airport. It is the first commercial airline slated to commence operations at the new terminal, which is designed to handle 700,000 passengers yearly.

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On Wednesday (July 4), CAG announced that the passenger terminal in the northern part of Singapore has received its Temporary Occupation Permit, and is on track for opening.

By the end of this year, passengers on some scheduled commercial flights departing and arriving in Singapore will do so outside Changi Airport for the first time in eight years. Berjaya Air was the last to operate commercial flights at Seletar Airport until it moved its operations to Changi Airport in 2010. 

The new 10,000 sqm terminal, six times the size of the old facility, is designed to serve turboprop flights, which will all be relocated from Changi Airport to free up capacity there for more jet aircraft operations.

However, other than a 145-lot open-air carpark and a taxi stand, there is no public bus service to the new Seletar Airport passenger terminal, nor is it near an MRT station.

The new terminal, which has been managed by CAG on the behalf of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) since 2009, also does not have any direct public transport links with the four terminals at Changi Airport.

Asked about the dearth of public transport options serving the new terminal, CAG and Land Transport Authority said they will work together "to provide a bus service to Seletar Airport". For passengers who may be switching to or from flights at Changi Airport, the CAG spokesperson said it is also working on transport connections to Seletar Airport.

In the meantime, the S$3 surcharge for taxis from Seletar Airport will remain, CAG said.

The new Seletar Airport passenger terminal will also not have duty-free stores due to space constraints. And only one food and beverage kiosk will be available to serve quick bites.

To address the lack of shopping options, CAG said it may open a collection point at Seletar Airport for passengers to shop at its online duty-free website.

"We are not ruling out extending e-commerce options (at Seletar Airport). We have the iShopChangi portal so passengers can order online and pickup (what they have ordered), said CAG's group senior vice president of corporate and marketing communications Mr Ivan Tan.

The four check-in counters at the new Seletar Airport passenger terminal. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

Passenger-activity will be confined to the ground floor of the two-storey building, which is designed linearly for departing passengers to go through the four check-in counters, six immigration lanes, two security screening stations in a straight route before reaching the holding room. The holding room can comfortably accommodate about three flights of passengers, numbering around 200.

The departure hall of the new Seletar Airport passenger terminal. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

On the second floor are office spaces and meeting rooms.

The airport has three aircraft parking bays, from which passengers can embark and disembark. However, they may need to contend with the weather due to the lack of aerobridges.

Following the move to the new terminal, the Passenger Service and Security Fee for Seletar Airport, which previously stood at S$18, will be increased to S$29. Currently, departing passengers at Changi Airport pay S$47.30, while transfer and transit passengers pay S$9.

The new terminal will also have a 500 sqm business aviation centre — a joint venture between SATS, Jet Aviation and Universal Singapore Aviation. With its own amenities such as a waiting lounge, dedicated immigration and a private drop-off area, the centre will serve passengers travelling on chartered business flights and private jets.

The relocation of the Seletar Airport passenger terminal will allow it to reap operation efficiencies, besides freeing up valuable space at Changi Airport, said Mr Khoh Su Lim, CAG's deputy general manager of Seletar Airport.

For example, the new energy-efficient terminal is much nearer to the control tower and fire station, allowing for faster response by ground operation teams.

The redevelopment of Seletar started in 2008 and, since then, the airport has seen several enhancements, including the lengthening of its runway, the construction of a new control tower and fire station, doubling of the number of parking stands, additional taxiways and upgraded aircraft aprons. Works on the new passenger terminal started in 2016.

An outdoor water feature at the new Seletar Airport passenger terminal. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

Ahead of its move, a Firefly spokesperson said it will notify affected passengers via announcements on its site, SMS, social media platforms, email and mobile applications.

"There will also be cross-communication advertisements promoting this move in Singapore to ensure that the public is well informed," the spokesperson added.

The old Seletar Airport passenger terminal — which currently serves only passengers on chartered business flights and private jets — will be returned to the state.

 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said by end of this year, passengers on some scheduled commercial flights will land in Seletar Airport for the first time in 37 years. This is incorrect. It should be eight years. We apologise for the error. 

Accelerating aviation industry transformation

On Wednesday, the new terminal played host to members of the aviation industry for the annual CAAS Annual Aviation Community Reception.

At the event, Senior Minister of State for Transport, and Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary announced that the Government will pump in more money for various initiatives in the aviation industry, such as the usage of drones and addressing Changi's long-term challenges arising from strong air traffic growth.

A S$9 million kitty will also be set aside to tackle ground operation challenges, while the Ministry of Transport and CAAS will fund four unmanned aircraft system projects with up to S$1.5 million each.

The four projects, led by Avetics Global, Garuda Robotics, Nova Systems and Wilhelmsen, will explore solutions in areas such as surveillance, inspection, package and maritime delivery, and the effective and safe use of airspace for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

To cap it off, an additional S$120 million will be added to the S$160 million Aviation Development Fund, which will support initiatives to spur the development of the aviation industry.

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