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Malaysia wants to reclaim airspace delegated to Singapore

Malaysia’s transport minister has reportedly said that the country plans to take back airspace over south Johor that it has delegated to Singapore.

The comment, made by Anthony Loke in parliament, was in response to a question on whether the development in the areas of Pasir Gudang in Johor, including the Johor Port, would be compromised by Singapore’s plans to boost commercial flights out of Seletar airport. The member of parliament also asked Loke when the government intends to “take back” its delegated airspace in Southern Johor from Singapore.

Loke responded that the government has opposed to Singapore’s plan to implement an instrument landing system at Seletar airport, which is just 2km from the Malaysia across the Strait of Johor, the narrow body of water between the two countries. It feels that this would “stunt development” around the Pasir Gudang industrial area, including imposing height restrictions on buildings and affecting port activities.

He adds, however, that Singapore still intends to use the system from January, which Malaysia sees as a breach of its sovereignty. The country will send a “protest note” to Singapore.

Loke also said that Malaysia has informed Singapore of plans to take back airspace accorded to the republic under an agreement in 1974, in phases between 2019 and 2023, Malaysia media reports.

The airspace issue first surfaced on 22 November when Malaysian turboprop operator Firefly announced that it will suspend all flights to Singapore from 1 December, the same date it was due to move operations from Changi airport to Seletar.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia has since said that there are regulatory issues that need to be resolved between the regulators of both countries. This includes reviewing the terms and conditions of the delegation of Malaysia’s airspace to Singapore.

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