KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 ― The Straits Times (ST) questioned today Malaysia’s ability to manage the airspace in southern Johor compared to Singapore, amid Putrajaya’s plan to reclaim it in phases from the republic.
In an opinion piece, its senior aviation correspondent Karamjit Kaur insisted that airspace management is about keeping commercial flights safe amid increasing traffic rather than sovereignty.
“Of course, a country that does not manage its own airspace, for whatever reasons, has every right to reclaim it,” Kaur wrote, pointing to Putrajaya’s decision on the airspace where Singapore has been providing air traffic services as part of a 1974 deal.
“The big question that must be asked is why and the answer cannot be ‘because it's mine’,” she added.
Kaur said redrawing a flight information region (FIR) would need to go through the procedures and processes in place, with the decision ultimately up to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
“In other words, can it do a better job?” she asked, referring to Malaysia.
Yesterday, Putrajaya announced that it will move to reclaim the airspace in phases between 2019 and 2023, notwithstanding previous permission for Singapore to use the delegated zone in southern Johor since 1974.
In response, Singapore’s Transport Ministry said any changes to the management of southern Johor airspace would affect various stakeholders.
Kaur insisted that to manage the projected growth of air traffic in the region safely, the stakeholders must integrate more rather than moving further away from each other.
“Breaking the airspace into smaller pieces with more parties managing flights adds complexity, leads to multiple points of coordination and eventually, could pose more safety risks,” she wrote.
“Indeed, this runs counter to what the Asean grouping of 10 nations stands for and hopes to achieve with its plans for a single aviation market that would eventually remove operational and commercial barriers for airlines and aviation-related businesses in the region.”
Yesterday, Transport Minister Anthony Loke also protested against Singapore’s decision to operate its instrument landing system for the Seletar Airport near the border with Johor, despite opposition by Malaysia.