Firefly Suspends Singapore Flights due to Issue over Seletar Airport

Singapore, Malaysia, airport, airline

While Singapore authorities officially declared Seletar Airport open to commercial aviation done with turboprops aircraft, Malaysia air carrier Firefly claims to be forced to suspend Singapore operations due to technical issues at the airport. Which one is telling the truth?

On Friday, Seletar airport, located north of the City-State and operational for non-commercial aviation, has been cleared to commercial scheduled flights. From now on, turboprop aircraft are allowed to operate regular routes following the inaugural of a brand new terminal.  The new passenger terminal building at Seletar Airport has commenced operations announced already last Monday, Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan explained on Monday.

The brand new facility which requested a total investment of US$50 million is due to see its first scheduled flights on December 1st… ‘Due to’ indeed as the future main user of the terminal – Malaysian air carrier Firefly-just announced to suspend all of its Singapore flights due to unresolved technical issues.

Firefly announced on its website on Thursday that it would have to suspend flights into Singapore effective December 1st until relevant authorities have cleared remaining matters, believed to be mostly technical. The Malaysian newspaper The Star talked to an executive of the airline who declared that “it is a lack of equipment at the new airport that is delaying the transfer.”

It has been reported that Seletar lacks equipment such as the instrument landing system, which is essential for turboprop aircraft’s landing and take-off. However, according to Changi Airport authorities, which are running Seletar airport, the new terminal and the runway meet the relevant requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization on airport design and operations.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore has certified that the new facilities and infrastructure at Seletar Airport are ready for aircraft operations. These include both scheduled and non-scheduled services with an annual capacity for 700,000 passengers.

Passengers on commercial flights can look forward to checking in via four check-in counters in the departure hall, before proceeding to a comfortable departure boarding gate. Spanning 10,000 square metres, the new two-storey terminal also features more space for arrival immigration, baggage claim and a meeting point hall, designed to provide a warm and hassle-free reception.

On the airside, three parking stands adjacent to the new terminal enable quick boarding for passengers of commercial flights, and a faster turnaround time for the aircraft. Another 60 aircraft stands are located elsewhere in the airside of Seletar Airport, serving business and general aviation needs.

The new terminal includes the Seletar Business Aviation Centre, which comprises a separate drop-off area and a dedicated check-in and lounge area for business aviation passengers.

The new terminal is served by public bus service 102, with the bus stop conveniently located 50 metres from the terminal and accessible via a sheltered walkway. The bus service provides connectivity from the Seletar Airport area to Hougang Central Bus Interchange, Sengkang MRT station and Jalan Kayu. This is in addition to current public transport options such as taxis and private hire cars.

Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) CEO Izham Ismail, the company running Firefly, explained to the Star newspaper to “be hopeful that the issue would be resolved soon.”
“Changi is heavily congested and Firefly operates turboprops and the decision was made by Changi to transfer non-jet commercial aircraft to Seletar. The positive perspective is that it will enable more convenient movement of passengers from the aircraft right out of the terminal door at Seletar,” Izham says.
Firefly operates the only turboprop service into Singapore, with 70 weekly flights from Ipoh, Kuantan and Kuala Lumpur Subang airport. Firefly flies to 17 destinations offering mostly short-haul routes. It recently launched three weekly flights linking Langkawi to Kota Bharu in Kelantan.