Analysts and tour agents were not altogether surprised when news broke on Tuesday evening that company that owns the Singapore Flyer had enter receivership just five years after it was launched.
Ferrier Hodgson, which specialises in insolvency and corporate turnarounds, was appointed as receivers and managers over the charged assets of Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd, the company which owns the 165-metre-high wheel. Ferrier in a statement on Tuesday said that "it is business as usual at Singapore Flyer" and it is working with business partners and tour operators to ensure smooth operations through the receivership. It added that it was confident it would be able to identify investors to manage and improve the Singapore Flyer.
Analysts noted that the Singapore Flyer was not attractive to locals and did not encourage repeat visitors while tour agents also told The Straits Times that the ticket prices were too expensive and some had stopped taking tourists there.
Mr M. Loganathan, a tour guide, said that he prefers to take tourists to view Singapore's scenery from buildings like the OUB building instead. "It's cheaper so we earn more. At these places, tourists can stay as long as they want and take as many pictures as they want," he said, adding that he suggests alternate locations to the Flyer to tourists the guides.
The Singapore Flyer project was formally announced and endorsed on June 27, 2003 by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the developer, Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd, and STB.
While the attraction crossed the one-million mark in ticket sales in August 2008, it suffered several breakdowns including two major ones. On Dec 4 in 2008, the wheel was stuck for nearly five hours due to bad weather and some 70 people were stranded. A few weeks later on Dec 23, wheel stopped moving for more than six hours. Some 173 passengers on board were trapped and 11 passengers eventually had to be evacuated via a sling-like device from a few of the capsules, and those stranded were given food and drink. Following this breakdown, additional back-up systems costing about $3 million were installed.
Then reports pointing to some unhappiness internally surfaced. In November that year, German investors behind the tourist attraction launched a bid to remove Flyer chairman Florian Bollen. Earlier in the year, they attempted to remove board director Peter Purcell.