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The Singapore Flyer (Chinese: 新加坡摩天观景轮 Tamil:சிங்கப்பூர் ஃப்ளையர் Malay: Singapura <<fill in>>) is a giant observation wheel in Singapore. The final capsule was installed on 2 October 2007, the observation wheel started rotating on February 11 2008 and it officially opened to the public on March 1 2008. Tickets for rides on the first 3 nights were sold out for S$ 8,888 Singapore dollars (US$6,271), an auspicious number in Chinese culture.<ref>Inquirer.net, World's biggest observation wheel set to spin in Singapore</ref> The grand opening for the Flyer was held on 15 April 2008.<ref> Template:Cite news </ref>

Reaching 42 stories high, the Flyer comprises a Template:Convert diameter wheel, built over a three-story terminal building, giving it a total height of Template:Convert. This exceeds The Star of Nanchang by Template:Convert and the London Eye by Template:Convert. Each of the 28 air-conditioned capsules are capable of holding 28 passengers each, and a complete rotation of the wheel takes approximately 30 minutes.

Located on the southeast tip of the Marina Centre reclaimed land, it offers broad views of the city centre and beyond to about Template:Convert, including the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan, as well as Johor, Malaysia.

History

The Singapore Flyer was first conceived in the early 2000s, before formal planning commenced in 2002. German company Melchers Project Management (MPM) and Orient & Pacific Management (O&P) formed a new company, Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd, as the developer with MPM holding a 75% stake and the rest by O&P. The project was formally announced and endorsed by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on 27 June 2003, formalising the understanding between the developer and STB with regard to the land-acquisition process. As stipulated in the MOU, the STB will purchase the plot of land in Marina Centre from the Singapore Land Authority, and lease it to Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd for 30 years with an option to extend the lease by another 15 years. In addition, the land will be rent-free during the construction phase of the project. In July 2003, Jones Lang LaSalle was appointed as the real estate advisor. Takenaka and Mitsubishi were selected as the main contractors, and Arup as the structural engineer.

Early designs showed a Template:Convert high wheel similar to the London Eye, drawing criticisms that it lacked originality. The developers promptly pointed out however, that the design was not finalised, and they were merely for conceptualisation purposes. The project was to grind almost to a halt subsequently when the developers faced difficulties in sourcing for funds to build the wheel. Original plans to complete the wheel by the end of 2005 were thus postponed indefinitely, and there were reports (but denied by the STB) that the tourism board has set an ultimatum date on 31 March 2005 for the developer to iron out its financial issues and to keep the development going.

By September 2005, the project was revived when funds were successfully sourced from two German banks. Delbrueck Bethmann Maffei, a subsidiary of ABN AMRO, will provide equity to a maximum of S$100 million, with a further S$140 million coming from Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank. With the injection of S$240 million, the largest single foreign investment in the Singaporean entertainment industry, the wheel was slated to begin construction by the end of the month.

The Singapore Flyer looming at dusk

Design

The development has a gross building area of approximately Template:Convert, built on a Template:Convert site along the Marina Promenade. Designed by Arup and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the wheel features 28 air-conditioned capsules, each with a floor area of Template:Convert and capable of holding 28 passengers each (graphic). The constant rotation of the wheel means that a complete trip lasts approximately 30 minutes, and has a design capacity of up to 7.3 million passengers a year.

The terminal building on which the wheel sits on comprises three floors of commercial space, with an adjacent open air Greek-inspired theatre along the waterfront and complimented by a jetty. The site is beautified by luxurious landscaping, including roof gardens and a recreated rainforest in the terminal's atrium. An open bus park for 40 buses is located behind the building, and connected by an underpass to a covered multi-storey carpark for 300 vehicles. This carpark in turn has direct links to the underground Promenade MRT Station which is slated to be opened by 2010.

Visitors can take a free shuttle bus which operates on a half-hour basis to and from the Singapore Flyer to the City Hall MRT Station everyday.

Expectations

The attraction is expected to draw about 2.5 million visitors in its first year of operation, which will give its investors a net yield of about 13.4%. About 50% of its visitors are expected to be foreign tourists, helping to generate about S$94 million in tourism receipts in its opening year. The expected visitorship figure was deemed ambitious by some however, but the STB and the wheel's investors are upbeat over its long-term prospects.

Adval Brand Group, its master ticketing distributor, has guaranteed a minimum of 8 million euros in ticket receipts per year for its investors, which was based on an annual visitorship of 600,000.

The Flyer started operations on March 1 2008,<ref> Template:Cite news </ref> and had a soft launch for limited spaces from February 11 2008 onwards.

Competition

Although the developers constantly drum on its height as a major selling point, the wheel has seen several contenders threatening to exceed it in scale.

  • The Great Beijing Wheel is a proposed Ferris wheel for Beijing, China. It is planned to stand at Template:Convert and will carry up to 1,920 passengers. This will make it the largest Ferris wheel in the world, higher than the Star of Nanchang, the Singapore Flyer, or the London Eye. It is estimated to be completed in 2009.

See also

References

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