Putrajaya to send objection letter to Singapore for flying low over Johor

Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook says the government will protect the sovereignty of the country but without carrying out extreme actions.

KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya will send an objection letter to Singapore over commercial planes flying low over Malaysian airspace to go to Seletar Airport in Singapore.

The airport is 2km away from the Johor border.

Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook said the letter would be sent immediately as it involved the sovereignty of Malaysia.

He was replying to Hassan Abdul Karim (PH-Pasir Gudang) who asked if the minister was aware that low flying commercial airplanes entering into Singapore would “affect” residents in Pasir Gudang and Johor port.

Hassan said the low flying planes were causing noise pollution and preventing high-rise buildings from being built.

Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) meanwhile said the issue concerned Johor residents and that Malaysians should support the action carried out by the government through Wisma Putra.

“This is a sensitive issue as Singapore is our neighbour,” he said while asking if Putrajaya would carry out discussions to settle the issue.

Loke said the government would protect the sovereignty of the country but without carrying out extreme actions.

“It is our stand not to confront them. This is about the airspace and it is important for residents in Johor,” Loke said.

Loke suggested that in upgrading the Selatar airport, the Singapore government should have a new Instrument Landing System (ILS) as stated by the International Civil Aviation Organization the body responsible for standards, recommendations and policies for planes.

The ILS refers to methods of flying with navigation aids at airports while descending and ascending.

Last month, the Straits Times reported that all operations at Seletar Airport had moved to a new terminal, with the shutters pulled down on the old facility which started handling civil flights 50 years ago.

The new terminal comprises one section for scheduled commercial flights and another for business aviation involving passengers travelling on chartered business flights and private jets.

The report said the construction of the new passenger terminal was part of a renewal of the airport located within Seletar Aerospace Park, which houses more than 60 aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul firms.

Since 2008, Seletar Airport has seen several enhancements, including the lengthening of its runway, the construction of a new control tower and fire station, a doubling of the number of parking stands, additional taxiways and upgraded aircraft parking aprons, the report added.

In a later press conference at the transport ministry, Loke said the process of gaining control of the country’s airspace would be done in stages.

“The government has attempted to get airspace control before, but we did not succeed in the past.

“It is time for us to get our own airspace in our own territory,” he said. “We will begin negotiations with our Singapore counterpart.”

He assured that there would be no negative impact on the technical cooperation between the two countries, saying Malaysia had its own air traffic control as well.

“We are not against the Seletar Airport. We are just asking for our own airspace to be managed by our own authorities.”

On a separate matter, he said the government would look into reports that AirAsia was collecting less than the required amount in passenger service charges (PSC).

This follows confirmation by AirAsia chief executive Riad Asmat that the airline was only collecting RM50 despite the government gazette mandating a collection of RM73 from passengers flying to destinations outside of Asean.