Firefly should be allowed back 
to Changi, says Izham

Airline supposed to move  to Seletar from Changi but hampered by Singapore’s unresolved ILS issue

By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Singapore should return Firefly Sdn Bhd’s landing rights at Changi Airport after the republic’s airport authority failed to fulfil all the conditions for the carrier’s relocation to the Seletar Airport.

Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) CEO Captain Izham Ismail (picture) said Firefly should be allowed to return to Changi, while Malaysia and the republic try to resolve the instrument landing system (ILS) issue.

“We agreed to move from Changi to Seletar with the prerequisites that the infrastructure, including immigration, check-in counters, baggage handling system and the ILS, are all in place.

“There is an issue with the ILS approval. They should at least honour the agreement and give back the Changi slots to Firefly,” Izham told The Malaysian Reserve.

Izham claimed that Firefly had submitted many applications to the republic’s aviation authority for the slots at Changi over the last few months, but the request had been rejected.

“Firefly, under MAG, is truly disappointed with the current affair. The least they could do is to revert Firefly to Changi until the issue is resolved.”

Firefly, a subsidiary under MAG, has suspended all flights to the island nation from early this month due to regulatory issues.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore had claimed that the suspension was due to the absence of approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia for the carrier to operate at the Seletar Airport.

Malaysia’s unwillingness to approve the request was related to the airport’s ILS and claims of sovereignty encroachment, which had kicked off a new diplomatic storm between the two neighbouring countries.

Malaysia wants to reclaim its airspace from Singapore in phases between 2019 and 2023, after allowing the republic to use the delegated airspace in southern Johor since 1974.

The government is also protesting Singapore’s decision to operate its ILS for the Seletar Airport near the Johor border, despite Malaysia’s opposition.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the government disallowed Singapore from broadcasting the new ILS on Nov 28 and 29 this year, in order to protect the sovereignty of airspace and development around Pasir Gudang, Johor.

“However, Singapore broadcast the ILS on Dec 1, 2018, and will enforce it on Jan 3, 2019, without the Malaysian government’s agreement.

“This is against the principle of national sovereignty as accorded under the Convention on International Civil Aviation 1944,” he had said.

Seletar’s new ILS was designed with a north approach where the landing path falls over Pasir Gudang, Johor’s airspace.

The ILS landing approach has only three nautical miles (nm) inside Singapore’s airspace, while 8nm is in Malaysian airspace. 

Izham said Firefly is now in limbo as it could not operate from both Changi or Seletar, and that has impacted the carrier’s revenue.

He claimed that Firefly’s landing slots at Changi had been allocated to other airlines. Previously, Firefly flies 20 times daily to Changi from Subang, Kuantan and Ipoh.