02 April 18 The Straits Times by ZHAKI ABDULLAH
The Singapore Flyer reopened for business yesterday following a two-month hiatus.
The 10-year-old attraction was forced to suspend operations after a "technical issue" on Jan 25 required all 61 passengers on board to be brought to the ground.
It is understood that the problem was traced to a glitch in the mechanism that allows the wheel to rotate. Located at the base of the wheel, it did not affect the observation wheel or any of its capsules structurally.
The Singapore Flyer announced on Saturday that it had received approvals from the relevant authorities to resume operations, and that the "necessary safety checks and tests have been carried out to the satisfaction of the Building and Construction Authority ".
A Singapore Flyer spokesman said that tenants, as well as travel agents and other partner organisations, were informed that same day of the reopening.
"The first week may see a slight dip in visitor numbers, but we expect the number to resume fairly quickly to normal," she said.
When The Straits Times visited the attraction at 11am yesterday, tour buses were lined up at the entrance and visitors had already formed queues for a ride in one of the 165m-high structure's 28 capsules.
Australian factory manager Gary Luscombe, on holiday with his wife and two friends, was disappointed when he heard that the Flyer was closed on the first of his three-day trip to Singapore.
But the 64-year-old was there yesterday morning after reading that the wheel was turning again.
"It would have been terrible if we had found out it had reopened only after we got on the plane (at the end of the trip)," he said.
His wife Ann Luscombe, a 61-year-old bank officer, added: "(The authorities) wouldn't have allowed it to reopen if they didn't think it was safe."
Businesses located at the Flyer's base are hopeful that footfall will increase with the reopening.
Mr Rajender Kumar Bhandari, director of Bhandari's Saffron - a restaurant located on the second floor of the Flyer's base - said business dipped during the closure, from an average of about 400 customers a day to fewer than 200.
But he said the Flyer's management helped during the downturn by promoting the restaurant and slashing rental costs.
"I really have to say a big 'thank you' to the management. They were excellent landlords during this time," said Mr Bhandari.
Staff at Kenko Reflexology and Fish Spa said business has improved. During the hiatus, it did not have a single customer on some days.
Mr Sam Al-Schamma, managing director of flight simulator attraction Flight Experience, joked that his staff enjoyed a two-month "siesta" during the Flyer's closure, but said they are looking forward to welcoming customers now that the Flyer has reopened.