Kuala Lumpur—Malaysia’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke said on Sunday, April 21, that the country intends to re-take the airspace from Singapore around southern Johor in stages starting from the latter part of 2019 through the next four years to 2023.
He emphasised the importance for both Singapore and Malaysia to hasten the review of the Operational Letter of Agreement between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Area Control Centres Concerning Singapore Arrivals, Departures and Overflights 1974, via the Malaysia-Singapore High-Level Committee. The review had been discussed and agreed upon by the two countries Prime Ministers earlier this month at a leadership summit in Kuala Lumpur.
The Malay Mail reports that Mr Loke said in a speech at the launch of Firefly’s FY3126 from Subang Airport to Seletar Airport in Singapore, “With the progress that we have made, I am confident that both countries can reach mutually beneficial solutions and look forward to strengthening our bilateral cooperation in the aviation and tourism sector.”
Singapore’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan was also on hand for the resumption of Firefly’s flights to Singapore. Last December, Firefly suspended its Singapore flights after the domestic Civil Aviation Authority did not issue an approval for it to move operations from Changi Airport to Seletar.
Malaysia had opposed the use of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures in Seletar, claiming that the ILS interfered with development in Pasir Gudang in Johor.
When Singapore withdrew these ILS procedures and Malaysia indefinitely suspended its permanent Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang after months of negotiations, Firefly was able to commence its operations once more.
At the launch, Malaysia’s Transport Minister also talked about how the two nations are in agreement concerning resolving bilateral issues in peaceful and productive ways, have purposed to cooperate in finding solutions that will benefit both parties.
He gave the example of the approval for Firefly to fly into the airport at Seletar, which had come about after several discussions concerning relations between Singapore and Malaysia particularly regarding concerns over airspace. This, he said, ended in a “win-win” situation.
He also highlighted the importance of the first Firefly flight into Seletar Airport, saying,
“This inaugural flight certainly represents a significant milestone in enhancing bilateral cooperation between Malaysia and Singapore.”
He also gave an update regarding plans for the future. “To enhance the flight safety and efficiency into Seletar Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia are working together towards the GPS-based approach to be implemented in Seletar Airport in the near future.”
According to the Transport Minister, there will be more areas from Peninsular Malaysia from where Firefly will launch flights. Additionally, whether to resume flights from Kuantan, Ipoh, and even Melaka is now being studied.
He added, “As the airline seeks to mount seasonal services in leisure markets and islands around Peninsular Malaysia, it will also ramp up its charter services.”
Mr Loke thanked his Singaporean counterpart not just at the launch, but in a post on Facebook as well, since Mr Khaw threw him a surprise birthday celebration in advance, complete with a cake and the birthday song.
Amidst applause, Mr Loke blew out the candles. In his post, he expressed his wish for stronger relations between Malaysia and Singapore.
“Caught by surprise with a birthday celebration hosted by Co-ordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Singapore H.E. Khaw Boon Wan at the lunch reception after the Firefly’s inaugural flight to Seletar Airport Singapore today.
I made a wish on having stronger ties between Malaysia and Singapore. As mentioned in the speech earlier today, Minister Khaw and I are both confident that both countries can work towards achieving win-win situation.
Thanks again to Minister Khaw and his team for the advanced birthday celebration! ????
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