Changi Airport Group senior VP for market development Lim Ching Kiat says the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore is working with international consultants to find ways to increase the throughput of the existing two runways. It needs to do this because the third runway will be ready only toward the end of this decade.

He says the increased throughput will allow for more slots, but these additional slots will most likely be allocated to jet operators.

Lim says the issue CAG has with turboprops is the relatively low approach speed and the fact that the aircraft transport a fewer number of passengers.

Bombardier takes issue with the point about lower approach speed, arguing that the Q400 is a fast turboprop with an approach speed comparable to that of a jet aircraft.

There is no denying, however, that ATR 72s and Q400s transport fewer passengers than Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s, which means less revenue for the airport.

Turboprop manufacturers, however, argue that allowing them in would create new city pairs for Changi Airport, particularly into Peninsula Malaysia and Sumatra, Indonesia. They say this would boost Changi Airport’s connectivity and that many of the people traveling from these places would most likely transit at Changi and connect to long-haul international flights, thus reinforcing Changi Airport’s position as a leading international hub.

Industry sources say the Singapore authorities last year paid a consultant to study whether Singapore’s Seletar Airport could be transformed into a secondary airport for Singapore, the same way that Subang airport (Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport) is Kuala Lumpur’s secondary airport and a hub for turboprop operators.

Lim, who is also general manager of Seletar Airport, declines to comment on this, except to say, “This issue is under review.”

Seletar Airport is currently open only to nonscheduled operations, says Lim, adding that “the nature of the airport is different.

“It is really there to support Seletar Aerospace Park, so it is mostly being used for business aviation, medevac and flight training.”

Even if CAG were to open the airport to scheduled turboprop operations, whether there would be any takers is unclear. The CEO of Malaysia Airlines’ turboprop operation Firefly, Ignatius Ong, told Aviation Week last year that CAG had tried to persuade them to move from Changi Airport to Seletar Airport. He says he declined the offer, because he is concerned there are still too few bus and other public transport links from Seletar Airport to other parts of Singapore.