Southern Johor airspace arrangements 'have worked well', changes will affect many: MOT
04 Dec 2018
SINGAPORE: The current airspace arrangements over southern Johor have benefitted both Singapore and Malaysia, and any changes will impact many stakeholders, Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT) said in a statement on Tuesday (Dec 4).
The statement was made in response to remarks by Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke, who said in parliament on Tuesday that Malaysia wants to reclaim its "delegated airspace" in southern Johor.
In its statement, MOT pointed out that under current airspace arrangements, the provision of air traffic services in the airspace over southern Johor was delegated to Singapore, and that airspace in this region was one of the "most complex in the world".
"Air traffic growth is one of the fastest in the world. The benefits to both our economies and our people have been tremendous," said MOT. "The current airspace arrangements have been working well and have facilitated this growth.
"Hence, any proposed changes will impact many stakeholders. Consultations will therefore be required to minimise the impact on airlines and passengers."
The current airspace arrangements were agreed upon in 1973 by Malaysia, Singapore and other regional states, and subsequently approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the ministry said. A bilateral agreement was then signed between Malaysia and Singapore in 1974.
LANDING PROCEDURES AT SELETAR IN USE "FOR DECADES": MOT
MOT said it noted that Mr Loke had made "several comments" regarding the publication of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport, but that the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore had in 2014 informed Malaysia's transport ministry of the move of turboprop operations to Seletar Airport.
The ILS procedure refers to an assisted navigational aviation facility at the airport which provides vertical and horizontal guidance to pilots while the flight is descending and approaching the runway.
In December last year, the ILS procedures were shared with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, said MOT, but added that "despite repeated reminders", it had received "no substantive response" from the Malaysian authority until late November this year.
On Tuesday, Mr Loke said that Malaysia notified Singapore on Nov 28 and 29 of its objection to the publication of the ILS, citing the impact on developments and shipping operations in Pasir Gudang, and that Singapore still published it on Dec 1.
In its statement, MOT said the ILS procedures were designed to align with existing flight profiles into Seletar Airport which "have been used for decades", and also take into account existing structures at Pasir Gudang.
"The procedures therefore do not impose any additional impact on other airspace users as well as businesses and residents in Johor," said MOT.
There are also existing procedures and equipment to ensure that shipping on the Straits of Johor would not be affected, said the ministry.
"In fact, the ILS procedures will enhance safety for all users and residents."
It said it noted Malaysia's desire to provide air traffic services for the airspace, and added that any proposal should ensure air traffic safety and efficiency are not compromised while also being in accordance with ICAO standards.
"Sovereignty is a fundamental principle of international law. Singapore respects Malaysia’s sovereignty. At the same time, international law is clear that cross-border airspace management is not incompatible with sovereignty," the ministry said.
"Singapore and Malaysia are close neighbours, who have had a long history of cooperation and friendly competition," it said. "We need to work together to tackle our common challenges and find constructive ways to resolve our differences when interests diverge.
"With goodwill, a win-win outcome is possible. We will approach this recent development in the same spirit."
SELETAR AIRPORT HAS BEEN AROUND "FOR DECADES": KHAW
Pointing out that Seletar Airport is not a new airport, Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the ILS procedures are in line with the current flight profile, and publishing them was just a translation of the current situation onto paper.
"Seletar has been around for umpteen years, for decades," the minister told reporters on Tuesday.
"The flight path has been there for umpteen years, for decades, and the new procedures are are not any new procedures, they just translate the current situation (onto) paper."
This in fact enhances safety, said the minister, adding that it made safety rules clearer and more transparent.
"So we are not introducing new flight paths, new flight patterns with this Seletar Airport."
He noted Malaysia's decision to "take back the airspace", but said that it was not a straightforward decision to "just change the status quo".
ICAO procedures are "quite clear" that any such changes must improve on the status quo, said Mr Khaw.
"If it doesn't improve on the status quo, then what is the point of changing?" he asked. "The criteria for improvement are safety and efficiency. Does it make it safer? Does it make it more efficient? Otherwise, why change?"
Malaysia wants to 'reclaim delegated airspace' in southern Johor
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government wants to reclaim its "delegated airspace" in southern Johor, its Transport Minister Anthony Loke told parliament on Tuesday (Dec 4).
Citing concerns over sovereignty and national interest, the minister said Malaysia will discuss its plans in greater detail with Singapore, and if necessary refer to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for further advice.
Mr Loke said Malaysia informed Singapore on Nov 29 regarding its plan to "reclaim its sovereign airspace in phases", with the first stage expected around the end of 2019 and the next stage in 2023.
“The plan to reclaim Malaysia's delegated airspace in southern Johor needs to be done in stages in order to coordinate the air traffic control service arrangements between the air navigation service providers in both countries to ensure safe, efficient and organised aircraft movement,” Mr Loke said.
In his remarks to parliament, Mr Loke added that the airspace in southern Johor has been "delegated" to Singapore since 1974 for the purpose of providing air traffic control services through Operational Letter of Agreement Between Kuala Lumpur And Singapore Area Control Centers Concerning Singapore Arrivals, Departures And Overflight (LOA 1974).
Malaysia through Wisma Putra will send a protest note to Singapore over alleged sovereignty infringement of its airspace in southern Johore following publication of ILS Instrument Landing System procedures for Seletar Airport : Transport Minister Anthony Loke .
Speaking to reporters at a press conference later, Mr Loke said he had recently met Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, and that he had given his counterpart a "heads-up" that Malaysia intends to negotiate the retaking of the airspace.
“But of course the process will take some time. We are not saying immediately.”
Mr Loke also said in parliament that Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will send a statement of protest to Singapore over what he described as a "violation" of principle, referring to Singapore's publication of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport.
Mr Loke told parliament that Malaysia notified Singapore on Nov 28 and Nov 29 of its objection to the publication of the ILS, citing the impact on developments and shipping operations in Pasir Gudang, and that Singapore still published it on Dec 1.
The ILS procedure refers to an assisted navigational aviation facility at the airport which provides vertical and horizontal guidance to pilots while the flight is descending and approaching the runway.
ILS procedures provide a point of entry which guarantees the accuracy and efficiency of flights and increases the probability of landing a plane in an airport, Mr Loke explained in parliament.
For the purpose of upgrading Seletar Airport's landing system and procedure, Mr Loke said that it is necessary for Singapore to broadcast the new ILS procedure for the airport in the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) Singapore, according to the standards of the ICAO.
"Should the publication in AIP Singapore be allowed, development in Pasir Gudang areas may be stalled as buildings and structures must comply with the impedance and height control limits set by international standards. In addition, Singapore's AIP broadcasting will also affect shipping operations at Pasir Gudang Port,” Mr Loke said in parliament.
He noted that the ILS will take effect from Jan 3, 2019, without the permission of the Malaysian government.
Speaking to reporters later, Mr Loke said: “The Seletar Airport is very near to Pasir Gudang - the aircraft has to fly very low, over Pasir Gudang airspace (when it descends) … We can't even build tall buildings in Pasir Gudang."
“There are currently some tall buildings above the limit over Pasir Gudang. So it is technically not viable right now for that flight path to be allowed.”
He stated that Malaysia is not against Seletar Airport but as far as the descend flight path is concerned, it cannot be over Pasir Gudang.
“Let me make it very clear. This Seletar Airport is in Singapore territory. We cannot tell other people not to build their airport. That is their right," he said.
“We are not taking a confrontational approach. We want to be good neighbours … But this is our position and we hope our Singapore counterparts can respect our position.”
The announcement from Malaysia's transport minister comes after Malaysian budget carrier Firefly announced earlier that it would suspend all flights to Singapore from Dec 1.
It had been unable to obtain approval from Malaysia's civil aviation regulator to operate at Seletar Airport, after Singapore authorities said that turboprop flights would be relocated from Changi Airport to newly opened Seletar Airport, to optimise the use of resources.
Following Firefly's announcement, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said it has been asking its Malaysian counterpart to share any regulatory concerns about the move, adding that Singapore has made "all preparations and approved all applications" by Firefly to operate to and from Seletar Airport.
Singapore lodges 'strong protest' over extension to Johor Bahru port limits
04 Dec 2018
SINGAPORE: Singapore has lodged a "strong protest" with the Malaysian government over its move to extend the Johor Bahru port limits "in a manner which encroaches into Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas", said Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT) in a media statement on Tuesday (Dec 4).
Changes to the port limits were announced through Malaysia's Federal Government Gazette on Oct 25, 2018, in a document published by the Attorney General's Chambers.
Singapore said it has requested that Malaysia refrain from taking any further unilateral action, and to amend the gazette notification "to reflect the sovereignty of Singapore over the waters in question".
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has also issued a circular on Nov 30, instructing ship masters and owners of vessels to disregard Malaysia’s gazette notification.
Singapore's Transport Ministry added that Malaysian vessels - from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Marine Department Malaysia - have repeatedly intruded into Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas over the past two weeks.
"Singapore has protested the unauthorised movements of, and purported assertions of sovereignty by these vessels, which are inconsistent with international law," said the MOT statement.
"The Republic of Singapore Navy and the Police Coast Guard are safeguarding the sovereignty of Singapore territorial waters and enforcing the security of these waters on a 24/7 basis. Singapore will not hesitate to take firm action against intrusions and unauthorised activities in our waters."
The statement added that the actions by Malaysia are "a serious violation of Singapore’s sovereignty and international law".
"These actions are unconducive to good bilateral relations, cause confusion for the international shipping community, and lead to increased navigational and safety risks for all parties," MOT said.
"Singapore stands ready to engage with Malaysia to resolve these matters amicably, in accordance with international law."
"WE HOPE GOOD SENSE WILL PREVAIL": KHAW BOON WAN
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said he had raised the issue with his Malaysian counterpart Anthony Loke.
"Minister Anthony Loke told me it was a move on the part of their foreign affairs (ministry), and that their ministry will reply to us. But while waiting for the response, which didn't come, in fact, they escalated actions.
"They went on to publish a port circular and a few weeks later, a mariners note - instructions to the shipping community about their new boundaries - so we issued a second third-party notice," said Mr Khaw.
"We hope that good sense will prevail because if we carry on like this, certainly it's not conducive."
Singapore on Tuesday also responded to remarks by Mr Loke who said that Malaysia wants to reclaim its "delegated airspace" in southern Johor.
The current airspace arrangements over southern Johor have benefitted both Singapore and Malaysia, and any changes will impact many stakeholders, said Singapore's Transport Ministry.
It also pointed out that procedures for aircraft landing at Seletar Airport were designed to align with existing flight profiles into the airport which "have been used for decades".
The procedures take into account existing structures at Pasir Gudang and "do not impose any additional impact on other airspace users as well as businesses and residents in Johor", said MOT.
Malaysia's desire to take back airspace 'not a straightforward decision': Khaw Boon Wan
SINGAPORE: Malaysia's desire to reclaim the airspace in southern Johoris not a "straightforward decision", said Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Tuesday (Dec 4).
Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke had brought up the topic in parliament earlier Tuesday, saying Malaysia would discuss its plans in greater detail with Singapore and, if necessary, refer to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for further advice.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Khaw said that the Malaysian authorities had earlier informed the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore of its intention to take back the airspace, citing "sovereignty issues and so on".
The current airspace arrangements were agreed upon in 1973 by states in the region, including Singapore and Malaysia. A bilateral agreement was then signed between Malaysia and Singapore in 1974.
"But as you know, airspace management has nothing to do with sovereignty," said Mr Khaw. "In fact, many countries have their airspace - or at least part of their airspace - managed by other countries."
Mr Khaw said airspace management is "very much about the safety and efficiency".
"We note Malaysia's desire to take back the airspace, but as you know, this is a very congested airspace, probably one of the most complex airspaces in the world ...
"It is not a straightforward decision to just change the status quo."
Mr Khaw said that ICAO procedures and processes indicate that any change must improve the status quo.
"If it doesn't, what is the point of changing? The criteria for improvement are safety and efficiency. Does it make it safer? Does it make it more efficient? Otherwise, why change?" said Mr Khaw.
Now that Malaysia has proposed a change, there must be "proper consultation" with the many stakeholders involved, he added.
PROTEST OVER CHANGE IN JB PORT LIMITS
Mr Khaw also touched on the Malaysian government's move to extend the Johor Bahru port limits, over which Singapore has lodged a "strong protest".
Changes to the port limits were announced through Malaysia's Federal Government Gazette on Oct 25, in a document published by the Attorney General's Chambers.
Mr Khaw said that there have been repeated intrusions into Singapore waters by Malaysian government vessels in the last two weeks.
"I alerted Minister Anthony Loke that Malaysia has unilaterally expanded the Johor Bahru port limits, encroaching into Singapore territorial space. Obviously, there's a violation of our sovereignty and also international law.
"We duly issued a third-party note to protest against the action and requesting them to immediately amend their gazette ... to take into account our sovereignty concerns," said Mr Khaw.
"Mr Loke told me this was a move on the part of their foreign affairs and that their ministry of foreign affairs will reply to us. But while waiting for the response, which didn't come ... they went on to publish a port circular, and a few weeks later, a mariners' note - instructions to the shipping community about new boundaries."
"NOT CONDUCIVE" FOR BILATERAL RELATIONS
Mr Khaw noted that the current situation is not favourable for both countries.
"If we carry on like this, certainly it's not conducive for a good bilateral relationship," he said. "There's much we can gain, win-win, working together. Many problems cross-border - you can't do it by yourself."
He raised the example of the traffic jam on the Causeway linking Singapore and Malaysia.
"I can't solve it single-handed. You can't solve it single-handed. If we sit down together, we may be able to improve the situation," he said.
Mr Khaw said he would approach the matter the same way he did the recent discussion about the KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project.
"So the approach I take, as I said as in the HSR project, let's sit down and let's understand each other," said the minister. "What is bothering you? What is the concern? And we try to find some common solution ... which can be win-win.
"I always believe that with some creativity and goodwill, and of course mutual respect, we can always arrive at such an outcome," he said.
Air and sea dispute: Timeline of actions by Singapore and Malaysia
On Tuesday (Dec 4), Singapore and Malaysia transport agencies and officials were involved in a public exchange of words regarding separate protests lodged against each other over issues related to airspace and territorial waters. This is the timeline of events leading up to the protest notes:
Oct 25: The Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia publishes a “Declaration of Alteration of Port Limits for Johore Bahru Port” in the Federal Government Gazette. The unilateral move seeks to inform the shipping community about the expanded boundaries.
Nov 22: Malaysian budget airline Firefly says it will suspend all flights into Singapore from Dec 1, until “the relevant authorities have cleared remaining matters in relation to the Singapore authority’s plans to move turboprop operations from Changi International to Seletar (Airport)”.
Nov 23: The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) claims it was never consulted on the timeline to move scheduled turbo-prop operations to Seletar Airport.
It says Malaysia is willing to work with Singapore on the regulatory issues related to Singapore’s plan to move Firefly operations from Changi Airport to Seletar Airport, “including outstanding airspace issues to be discussed, particularly on reviewing the terms and conditions of delegation of Malaysia’s airspace to Singapore for the provision of Air Traffic Services”.
Nov 24: The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) says Firefly has yet to get the green light from the Malaysian authorities to move its operations to Seletar Airport. It adds that airspace issues are not related to the relocation.
CAAS says Singapore had already conveyed to Malaysia that it stands ready to work together on airspace issues in the interest of international civil aviation and bilateral cooperation.
It states that the timeline for Firefly’s relocation was made known to the Malaysia Ministry of Transport and Firefly back in 2014.
In July this year, the Changi Airport Group “formally informed” Firefly that its flights would be relocated to Seletar Airport on Dec 1, to which Firefly agreed, CAAS points out.
Nov 30: The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) issues a port marine circular saying it does not recognise the port limits published by the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia. The expanded boundaries encroach into Singapore’s territorial waters and “the approaches to the Port of Singapore off Tuas”, MPA says.[Malaysia's gambit is so transparent. They hope to choke off approaches to our port. ]
Dec 4: Malaysia’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke says Malaysia will issue a protest note to Singapore over the Republic’s plan to use southern Johor airspace for flight operations at Seletar Airport. Malaysia will also start talks on taking back its delegated airspace in the south, Mr Loke says.
Mr Loke claims Singapore’s new Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport issued on Jan 1 would jeopardise development in Pasir Gudang. “To safeguard our airspace sovereignty and Pasir Gudang’s development, Malaysia had decided not to allow Singapore to go ahead with the new ILS. This decision was communicated to Singapore on November 28 and 29,” he says. “But Singapore went ahead with the ILS… As such, Malaysia, through the Foreign Ministry, will issue Singapore a protest note immediately.”
Later in the day, Singapore’s Transport Ministry said international law is clear that cross-border airspace management is not incompatible with sovereignty. “The purpose of airspace management is to ensure the safety and efficiency of air traffic,” it said.
The ministry discloses that ships and vessels from Malaysia have been repeatedly intruding into Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas over the past two weeks, including vessels from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Marine Department Malaysia.
The Singapore Government is strongly protesting Malaysia’s purported move to extend port limits, which violates sovereignty and international laws, and it will not hesitate to “take firm action against intrusions and unauthorised activities”.