Malindo Air's chief executive believes that Changi Airport Group is protecting Singaporean carriers by blocking Malaysian carriers seeking additional slots to operate more Kuala Lumpur-Singapore flights.
Speaking to FlightGlobal, Chandran Rama Muthy says that that CAG is willing to grant slots on other routes, such as Kota Bahru to Singapore, but not to the Malaysian capital, in what he perceives as a way of limiting transfer traffic on key markets for Singaporean carriers.
"Malaysia carriers like us are competing in the same markets like South Asia. Of course, when it comes to pricing, our economies are totally different," he says.
FlightGlobal schedules data shows that the number of departures for Malaysia carriers on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route declined marginally over the past two years, falling from 4,748 flights in 2017 to 4,707 flights in 2018. Malindo's departures on the route have been consistent over the last three years at 1,460 per year.
Chandran adds that Malindo is also interested in operating its ATR 72 turboprops from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah airport in Subang to Seletar airport in Singapore, but CAG has advised it that Seletar is not open to any airlines for now.
Scheduled services to Seletar have seen a sore point between Singapore and Malaysia in recent months. The Malaysian aviation regulator blocked FireFly from moving its turboprop services from Changi to the smaller airport last year, forcing it to suspend its services to Singapore in December.
Malaysia is opposing Singapore’s plan to commission an instrument landing system at Seletar, arguing that the move would “stunt development" around the Pasir Gudang industrial area by imposing height restrictions on buildings and affecting port activities.