Singapore denies not respecting Malaysia’s sovereignty over airspace

Putrajaya has said it will send an objection letter to Singapore over commercial planes flying low over Malaysian airspace to go to Seletar Airport in Singapore. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Singapore has dismissed claims that it does not respect Malaysia’s sovereignty after complaints of commercial planes flying low over Malaysian airspace to go to the island republic’s Seletar Airport .

Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) today issued a statement in response to Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook’s remarks that Putrajaya would be sending an objection letter to Singapore over the matter as it involved the sovereignty of Malaysia.

Loke also said that Malaysia had informed Singapore that it would be taking back its delegated airspace in phases, between 2019 and 2023. The airspace was accorded to Singapore in a 1974 bilateral agreement.

“Sovereignty is a fundamental principle of international law. Singapore respects Malaysia’s sovereignty,” said the MOT, adding that the current airspace arrangements have been working well and facilitated growth while bringing benefits to both countries.

“Any proposed changes will impact many stakeholders. Consultations will, therefore, be required to minimise the impact on airlines and passengers,” it said.

“We note Malaysia’s desire to provide air traffic services for the airspace. Any proposal should ensure that the safety and efficiency of air traffic is not compromised and must be in accordance with ICAO standards, processes and procedures,” it said referring to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The MOT also responded to Loke’s comments on the broadcast of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport.

Loke said Singapore’s move could affect the development in Pasir Gudang, Johor, and shipping operations at the Pasir Gudang Port near the Seletar Airport.

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

The MOT said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) had informed Putrajaya in 2014 of the move of turboprop operations to Seletar Airport.

“In December 2017, the ILS procedures were shared with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM). However, despite repeated reminders, we received no substantive response from CAAM until late November 2018.”

MOT said the ILS procedures were designed in line with ICAO standards, which CAAM had also acknowledged.

“They were published in accordance with Singapore’s responsibilities under the relevant ICAO requirements as well as the bilateral arrangements we have with Malaysia.”

It added that the ILS procedures were designed to align with existing flight profiles into Seletar Airport.

“The procedures, therefore, do not impose any additional impact on other airspace users as well as businesses and residents in Johor.

“Also, there are existing procedures and equipment to ensure that shipping on the Straits of Johor would not be affected. In fact, the ILS procedures will enhance safety for all users and residents.”

The MOT added that with goodwill and cooperation, a “win-win” outcome is possible.