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Singapore rebuts Malaysia's objection to ILS at Seletar airport

Singapore has responded to Malaysia’s objection to the implementation of instrument landing system (ILS) procedures at Seletar airport, as well as the latter’s plan to take back delegated airspace in south Johor.

In a two-page statement, the island state’s transport ministry says that the ILS procedures were designed to align with existing flight profiles into Seletar airport, which have been in use for decades.

These procedures, which are in-line with ICAO standards, also 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. It adds that there are also existing procedures and equipment to ensure that shipping on the straits of Johor would not be affected.

The ministry also points out that the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore first informed Malaysia’s transport ministry of the planned move of turboprop operations to Seletar in 2014. It adds that the ILS procedures were shared with its Malaysian counterpart last December, but that it received no substantive response despite repeated reminders until late November.

Singapore’s response comes after Malaysia’s transport ministry Anthony Loke said in parliament yesterday that the implementation of ILS procedures at Seletar would “stunt development” around the Pasir Gudang area, including imposing height restrictions on buildings and affecting port activities. It also views the implementation as a breach of Malaysia’s sovereignty, considering the airport is just 2km from its borders.

Loke adds that Kuala Lumpur has also informed Singapore of plans to take back airspace accorded to the republic under an agreement in 1974, in phases between 2019 and 2023.

In response, Singapore says that airspace in the region is one of the most complex in the world with air traffic growth being one of the fastest.

“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 minimize the impact on airlines and passengers.”

It adds that international law is clear that cross-border airspace management “is not incompatible with sovereignty”, and is essential to ensure the safety and efficiency of air traffic.

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.

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