Malaysia’s civil aviation regulator appears to be unwilling to approve plans for Firefly to operate from Seletar airport in Singapore due to issues over airspace between the two countries.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) states in a 23 November statement that "for purposes of Firefly's safe operations into Seletar airport, there are indeed regulatory issues that needs to be resolved between the civil aviation authority of both countries."
This includes "outstanding airspace issues to be discussed, particularly on reviewing the terms and conditions of delegation of Malaysia's airspace to Singapore for the provision of air traffic services."
It adds that it was not consulted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) on the 1 December deadline to move turboprop operations at Changi International airport to Seletar, but respects that the authority was within its rights to do so.
FlightGlobal schedules data indicates that Firefly operates the only turboprop services into Singapore, with 70 weekly flights from Ipoh, Kuantan, and Subang.
In response, CAAS reiterated its position that Firefly has received all necessary approvals in Singapore to allow it to move its flights from Changi airport to Seletar on 1 December, in-line with a deadline to move all turboprop operations out of Changi.
The regulator adds that airport operator, Changi Airport Group, had liaised with the airline on the move, and formally advised it of the 1 December deadline in July.
However, Firefly informed the airport operator on 14 November that it was “unable to obtain approval from its regulator, CAAM, to operate into Seletar airport,” CAAS adds.
The airline announced on 22 November that it will suspend all services to Singapore from 1 December "until the relevant authorities have cleared remaining matters in relation to the Singapore authority's plans to move turboprop operations from Changi to Seletar".
CAAS says that it is seeking clarity from its Malaysian counterpart for the "specific regulatory concerns affecting Firefly's safe operations", but stresses that the airspace issues that Malaysia has raised are "not related to the shift of Firefly's operations."