Malaysia Airlines Group’s LCC subsidiary Firefly will resume commercial operations into Singapore from April 21 following the settlement of an airspace dispute between Singapore and Malaysia government.

In December 2018, the turboprop carrier was forced to suspend its 20 daily flights to Singapore after the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) disputed Singapore Seletar airport’s instrument landing system (ILS) procedure, which CAAM said would disrupt developments over Pasir Gudang.

In retaliation, CAAM issued a permanent notice to airmen (NOTAM) over the affected airspace for “military use.”

Following a bilateral meeting April 8, both the Singapore and Malaysia transport ministers said they would withdraw the ILS procedure and NOTAM respectively, and would work together to develop “GPS-based ILS” to replace the withdrawn ILS system.

While the officials did not give specifics, it is likely the required performance navigation (RPN) uses global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). In the interim, Firefly can only land in Seletar under visual flight rules (VFR) conditions.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore had set up the ILS in 2018 at Firefly’s request as the LCC prepares to move to Seletar airport.

Firefly said in January that it could lose up to MYR20 million ($4.9 million) monthly for the suspension. In other words, the airline would have lost over MYR80 million over the four-month period.

Competitor Malindo Air has also expressed interest in flying into Seletar and is in the process of acquiring regulatory approvals. Malindo operates the ATR 72 mainly on domestic routes and to Indonesia’s Batam via Kuala Lumpur.

Chen Chuanren, chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com