Malaysia ready to take control of southern Johor airspace

File pic.

SEPANG: Malaysia is ready to handle its airspace in southern Johor which was delegated to Singapore in 1974, Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook said today.

“This is a sovereignty issue. We wish to manage our own air space. That is our desire. For 45 years, the airspace has been delegated to Singapore. We are ready in (terms of) technical readiness.

Loke said Malaysia had invested a lot of money in terms of equipmentand training of air traffic controllers, as well as building of a new air traffic control centre in Sepang.

“With these facilities, we are ready to manage our own airspace. That is our top priority in reviewing our agreement with Singapore,” he said after a meeting with his Singapore counterpart Khaw Boon Wan at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Last Saturday, Malaysia and Singapore reached agreement on two disputed matters. Singapore withdrew Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures at Seletar Airport, thus allowing for flights by Firefly, while Malaysia would indefinitely suspend placing a permanent Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang.

Firefly is expected to begin flights to Seletar on April 21. Firefly flights were suspended from Dec 1, the day that operations were moved from Changi airport to Seletar because of Malaysian objections to the new landing procedures.

Malaysia said the procedures would impose height restrictions and affect development in Pasir Gudang.

At today’s meeting, the two transport ministers also said a high-level committee had been set up to review the Operational Letter of Agreement made in 1974 between Malaysa and Singapore regarding area control centres for Singapore arrivals, departures and overflights.

“Besides Firefly, Malindo is also interested to fly to Seletar Airport, and we hope all flights will resume in the near future. In the spirit of bilateral cooperation, this is good cooperation and the way forward for Malaysia and Singapore,” Loke said.

Khaw said a high-level committee chaired by the civil service heads had been set up to review the existing airspace arrangement under which air traffic control over southern peninsular Malaysia was delegated to Singapore.

Khaw said he had assured Loke that Singapore would approach the review with an open mind with regard to the critical need to ensure safety and efficiency in the busy airspace.

He said the civil aviation authorities of both countries will work together to develop GPS-based instrument approach procedures for Seletar Airport, from the north over Pasir Gudang and south over Singapore.

The GPS procedure would replace the ILS procedures. With north-east and south-west wind directions at different times of the year, both approaches are needed,” he said.