The Perth man stuck in Singapore for swearing on a Tiger Airways flight "is frightened and in hiding", an associate said yesterday.
Maritime worker Bruce Griffiths, 47, had been told he was facing caning under the island state's "outrage of modesty" laws but may now avoid the harsh punishment.
An associate of Mr Griffiths said he believed reports relating to the possible caning had forced authorities to back off the severe charge.
"This is very good news, Bruce is frightened and in hiding," the associate said.
No charges have been laid but the investigation continues.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said Australian High Commission officials in Singapore were providing consular assistance to Mr Griffiths, who was arrested on January 4 after he was allegedly involved in a swearing altercation with a passenger over disturbed sleep.
"Police have advised that the man is not facing charges which are punishable by caning," the spokeswoman said.
It is believed Mr Griffiths was en route to the Philippines when he was arrested and detained in Singapore after an overnight flight from Perth.
A colleague said Mr Griffiths was getting out of his middle seat to allow a female passenger to go to the bathroom when he disturbed a male passenger, who swore at him for disrupting his sleep.
It is alleged Mr Griffiths swore back at the passenger and cabin crew became involved in the altercation.
Singaporean authorities are holding Mr Griffiths' passport while investigations continue.
Amnesty International spokesman Edwyn Shiell said the threat of a caning punishment was "outrageous".
"Judicial caning is quite a common practice in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, and routinely is carried out against asylum seekers, migrant workers and women in particular," Mr Shiell said.
"We regard this punishment as cruel, inhumane and degrading, and Singapore's use of this punishment is contrary to the global ban on torture. We consider it a form of torture."
Tiger Airways confirmed there was an incident on the flight and said it would not compromise on its zero- tolerance policy on bad behaviour.