Here’s why Firefly suspends flights to Singapore

Firefly suspend Singapore flights
Image: Ken Fielding

Firefly has suspended all flights to Singapore effective 1st December 2018. Their turboprop flights were supposed to move from Singapore’s main Changi International Airport to Seletar Airport starting this month. However, there are matters that need to be cleared by authorities before they can resume flights at the new airport according to Firefly’s official notice. 

Anthony Loke, the Malaysian Minister of Transportation has recently explained in parliament that the government opposes Seletar Airport’s ILS (Instrument Landing System) procedures. An ILS is a radio navigation system which guides aircraft during a landing approach. This would allow pilots to land safely, especially in low visibility situations. 

Singapore’s Seletar Airport is only 2km away from Johor and the designated flight path currently cuts through Pasir Gudang. If Malaysia agrees to this, a height buffer will be required around the area. 

Anthony had illustrated the impact of such restrictions in his Facebook video. From 3km away, there can’t be any buildings or objects taller than 54 metres and from 6km away, the maximum permitted height is 145 metres. The video adds that a mobile crane is typically 103 metres in height and this height ceiling will affect future construction in Pasir Gudang if the ILS flight path is permitted. 

https://www.facebook.com/lokesiewfook/videos/272125803497410/UzpfSTU1NzI3MDQ4MToxMDE1NjY1NDUxNjc4MDQ4Mg/

Anthony Loke had emphasised that Malaysia is not against Singapore’s Seletar Airport but it only opposes the announced ILS flight path. The Ministry wants Singapore to withdraw the ILS announcement which is supposed to take effect on 3 January 2019. 

Seletar Airport was Singapore’s first airport and it previously wasn’t equipped with an ILS. A new S$80 million terminal was recently constructed to cater for chartered business flights, private jets and turboprop flights. Firefly is currently the only airline that operates turboprop flights to Singapore with flights to/from Subang, Ipoh and Kuantan.

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Alexander Wong