Home » Aviation, Breaking News, Maritime » SG, MY cooperate to ease rows over airspace, port limits

Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to cooperate and put on hold their bickering over the use of airspace, even as they have also implemented the suspension of their overlapping port limits.

In a joint statement by their respective transport ministers, the two countries said they have agreed that “in the spirit of bilateral cooperation, Singapore will withdraw the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport and Malaysia will indefinitely suspend its permanent Restricted Area (RA) over Pasir Gudang.”

This agreement, the statement added, was implemented by the civil aviation authorities of both countries on April 5, 2019.

With this, Malaysian Minister of Transport Anthony Loke and Singapore’s Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said they look forward to FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd’s commencement of flights to Seletar Airport effective April 2019.

Last November, Malaysian carrier FlyFirefly announced the suspension of its flights to Singapore after not receiving approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) to move its operations from Singapore Changi Airport to Seletar Airport.

The FlyFirefly’s flight suspension came as Malaysia accused Singapore that the planned implementation of its ILS procedures for the northerly approach into Seletar Airport violated Malaysia’s sovereignty.

On December 11, Loke in a video clip explained that the flight path used by the ILS would encroach into Malaysian airspace, as Seletar Airport is about 2 kilometers away from Pasir Gudang in Johor, Malaysia.

Singapore refuted Malaysia’s claim, saying it respected Malaysia’s sovereignty and that “cross-border airspace management is not incompatible with sovereignty.”

Nonetheless, CAAM established a permanent restricted area over Pasir Gudang with effect from January 2, 2019.

The dispute stemmed from Singapore’s plan to modernize the airspace management of Seletar Airport in order to handle more flights, in view of the growing economy of the region and increasing number of air travelers.

In their April 6 joint statement, the two transport ministers noted that a high-level committee has been set up to review the Operational Letter of Agreement between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Area Control Centres Concerning Singapore Arrivals, Departures and Overflights 1974.

“Both Transport Ministers said they welcome these positive steps and look forward to further strengthening bilateral cooperation,” the statement said.

Overlapping port limits suspended

Meanwhile, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) announced that the mutual suspension of the overlapping seaport limits of Malaysia and Singapore has been executed.

In a release, an MPA spokesperson said that on April 8, Malaysia and Singapore “mutually suspended the implementation of their overlapping port limits and applied their port limits in effect prior to 25 October 2018 and 6 December 2018 respectively.”

This suspension is pursuant to one of the five recommendations in the report of the working group on maritime issues surrounding the overlapping Johor Bahru Port Limits off Tanjung Piai and Singapore Port Limits off Tuas, said the spokesperson.

The recommendations were agreed upon by the foreign ministers of Singapore and Malaysia on March 14, 2019 “to de-escalate the situation on the ground and pave the way for maritime boundary delimitation.”

Singapore and Malaysia last March 14 said they had agreed to jointly suspend their overlapping port claims as they sought to resolve their maritime dispute that had resulted in at least one collision in waters off Tuas in Singapore since their friction began.

Malaysia had on October 25 gazetted an extension to the Johor Baru port limits beyond territorial claims made in its 1979 map, and anchored government vessels in the area.

On December 6, Singapore extended its port limits to the extent of its territorial waters in response.

The March 14, 2019 agreement was reached in a meeting between the two foreign ministers in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The meeting was a follow-up from their previous meeting in Singapore on January 8, 2019 where both ministers outlined their commitment to resolve the maritime issues surrounding the port limits of their countries.

Photo: Door aeroprints.com

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