Firefly may soon resume Singapore flights, says Malaysian Transport Minister

Firefly suspended all flights to Singapore from Dec 1, 2018, the day it was supposed to move its operations from Changi Airport to Seletar. PHOTO: ST FILE

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian carrier Firefly will soon know whether it can resume its services to Singapore, the country's Transport Minister Anthony Loke said on Sunday (March 31).

"The official announcement will be made soon. We are still finalising the details. We hope they can resume their services soon," The Star Online quoted Mr Loke as saying.

However, Mr Loke did not indicate which country will make the announcement nor did he give any indication when the announcement will be made.

Firefly suspended all flights to Singapore from Dec 1, the day it was supposed to move its operations from Changi Airport to Seletar Airport.

It was later revealed that this was because the airline had not received the green light from Malaysia's aviation regulator.

In a January statement in Parliament, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said: "Ironically, CAAS (Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore) was trying to facilitate Firefly's operations at Seletar by installing the ILS (Instrument Landing System), which Malaysia has now objected to."

Malaysia claims that an ILS at Seletar Airport would hamper the construction of tall buildings at Johor's Pasir Gudang, to the north of the airport.

Singapore has said repeatedly that this is not true, as the new landing system does not impose new height restrictions.

The only change on introducing an ILS is that pilots will be guided using ground instruments so that they no longer have to rely on just their vision.

The disagreement over flight procedures for Seletar Airport is part of a larger air dispute that also includes Malaysia's decision to declare a restricted zone over Pasir Gudang for the purpose of military activities.

Singapore and Malaysia are also locked in a maritime dispute, sparked by Malaysia's unilateral decision to extend the Johor Baru port limits in October, and subsequent intrusions by Malaysian government vessels into Singapore waters.

On Jan 8, both countries agreed to simultaneously and immediately suspend - for one month in the first instance - the restricted area and the ILS for Seletar.

Both sides later agreed to mutually continue with the suspension till the end of this month while they negotiate the issues.

While the discussions are ongoing, Firefly had said it will incur monthly losses of up to RM20 million (S$6.7 million) due to the suspension of its direct flights to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur.

Firefly in Malaysia offers its turboprop flights from Subang Airport, at the edge of Kuala Lumpur.

Flight analytics group FlightGlobal said in a December report that services between Singapore and Subang accounted for 33.2 per cent of Firefly's seat capacity.

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