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Singapore

Flight Information Region Agreement with Indonesia will support growth of Singapore’s aviation sectors: Iswaran

02:09 Min
The Flight Information Region (FIR) Agreement between Singapore and Indonesia will support the “continued growth and competitiveness of Singapore’s air hub and aviation-related sectors”, said Transport Minister S Iswaran in Parliament on Monday (Feb 14). Gwyneth Teo with more.

SINGAPORE: The Flight Information Region (FIR) Agreement between Singapore and Indonesia will support the “continued growth and competitiveness of Singapore’s air hub and aviation-related sectors”, said Transport Minister S Iswaran in Parliament on Monday (Feb 14).

The agreement clarifies how air navigation services (ANS) will be provided in “this busy and complex airspace”, said Mr Iswaran. He added that it will also ensure regional air traffic flows, including to and from Changi and Indonesian airports, will remain safe and efficient.

Under the agreement, signed on Jan 25, the boundary between the Jakarta FIR and the Singapore FIR will be realigned, and will “largely take into account Indonesia’s territorial baselines”.

Indonesia will delegate to Singapore the provision of ANS for the airspace closest to Changi, “to meet Changi Airport’s current and future traffic needs”, said Mr Iswaran.

Responding to questions by Members of Parliament (MPs) on how the agreement benefits Singapore, he noted that at its core, it will provide "clarity, certainty and ... give confidence to all parties involved".

“Specifically for us, what it means is, with that assurance, we can now focus on also a range of other initiatives which will help to enhance the services that we can provide, in terms of air navigation but also others, to support the broader aviation sector in Singapore.”

These include investments in technology, infrastructure and building greater co-operation between Indonesia and Singapore in aviation and other areas, he said.

BENEFITS

In his ministerial statement, Mr Iswaran also described the agreement as “a significant milestone” in Singapore’s bilateral transport relationship with Indonesia, benefitting both countries as well as international civil aviation.

The FIR agreement "decisively resolves" a longstanding issue that has been on the bilateral agenda and paves the way for closer cooperation in air traffic management and other aviation issues, he said.

Prior to this, Indonesia had repeatedly expressed its wish to take over control of the FIR above Riau islands, which has been managed by Singapore since 1946 as mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Singapore said previously that the FIR was not an issue of sovereignty, but of the safety and efficiency of commercial air traffic.

During a joint press conference on Jan 25 after the signing of the agreement, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "The FIR Agreement will meet the civil aviation needs of both countries, and uphold the safety and efficiency of air traffic in a manner consistent with ICAO rules."

Mr Iswaran also noted that the agreement will ensure the safe and efficient management of traffic to Indonesian airports, including Batam, Bintan and Tanjung Pinang airports, which are in close proximity to Changi.

The agreement and closer bilateral cooperation will give airlines and other stakeholders more opportunities to tap on future air traffic growth in this region, among other benefits, he said.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

The FIR Agreement will remain in force for 25 years and shall be extended by mutual consent if both countries find it beneficial to do so.

Leader of the Opposition MP Pritam Singh (WP-Aljunied) and Saktiandi Supaat (PAP-Bishan-Toa Payoh) asked what would happen after this period.

Mr Iswaran said both sides have 25 years to "implement the FIR agreement and gain experience" from the new arrangements.

"It will allow both sides to strengthen our bilateral transport ties and it establishes a foundation for further cooperation in the provision of ANS, and in other areas. The aviation sector will continue to develop with advancements in technology and ANS procedures," added the minister.

"As air traffic and airports grow, our operational needs and aviation standards will also evolve. 

“All these elements will shape the circumstances under which we will make decisions in the future. Under the FIR Agreement, the delegation arrangement shall be extended by mutual consent should both sides find it beneficial to do so.

"Singapore and Indonesia have agreed to consult each other and ICAO before the end of the 25 years, to ensure the safety and efficiency of international civil aviation beyond the 25-year duration.”

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean said in an earlier ministerial statement on Monday that authorities “certainly hope and have confidence that after 25 years, the same spirit (of cooperation) will prevail”.

In response to a further question by Mr Singh on what happens if the countries cannot reach an agreement, Mr Teo said: “What happens after 25 years is that the existing arrangements or the pre-existing arrangements will continue ... as they are currently continuing, before we reach a new agreement.

“So for the FIR, certainly Singapore will continue to discharge its responsibilities to provide air navigation services in a safe and efficient way for civil traffic.”

Source: CNA/cl(mi)

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