SINGAPORE: Singapore has accepted Malaysia’s counterproposal to extend the mutual suspension of the Pasir Gudang restricted area and Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures at Seletar Airport until the end of March, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Friday (Jan 25).
This comes after Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke was quoted as saying by the Malaysian media that Putrajaya had suggested Mar 31 as the deadline of the extension, instead of May 31 as proposed by Mr Khaw during their meeting on Wednesday.
He added that the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and its Malaysian counterpart have published new notices to airmen simultaneously at 6pm to effect the decision.
“I am happy to see the two regulators working together for the larger good of civil aviation safety and efficiency in our congested air space.”
Earlier in the day, Mr Loke reportedly said: “The (Malaysian) prime minister said the suspension period was too long, and that it needed to be shortened to March 31.”
On Wednesday, Mr Khaw wrote on Facebook that he had a "heart-to-heart discussion" with Mr Loke in Singapore.
"I suggested that we extend the mutual suspension of Malaysia’s Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang and Singapore’s Instrument Landing System procedures at Seletar Airport, to give our officials more discussion time to reach a win-win outcome," said Mr Khaw then.
"He will take my suggestion back to his Cabinet colleagues."
This is the third time the two ministers have met, said Mr Khaw, after previous meetings in Putrajaya and Bangkok last year. Both agreed to meet again after the Lunar New Year to continue the airspace discussion.
It was announced on Jan 8 that Malaysia will immediately suspend its permanent restricted area in the airspace over Pasir Gudang, while Singapore would similarly suspend its implementation of ILS procedures for Seletar Airport.
The suspension would be in place for one month in the first instance, the foreign ministers of both countries had said then, after a meeting in Singapore to discuss bilateral issues.
Singapore and Malaysia have been embroiled in a dispute over Singapore’s introduction of new ILS procedures for Seletar Airport, which Malaysia said would hamper the construction of tall buildings at Johor's Pasir Gudang, to the north of the airport.
Singapore disagrees with this.
The ILS procedure refers to an assisted navigational aviation facility at the airport which provides precision vertical and horizontal guidance to flights descending and approaching the runway.
Singapore had said it is not true that ILS procedures for the northerly approach into Seletar Airport amounted to a violation of Malaysia's sovereignty and international law as its neighbour had alleged.
Singapore's transport ministry had also reiterated that cross-border airspace management is not incompatible with sovereignty, pointing out that instrument flight procedures for some Malaysian airports also extend into the territories of neighbouring states.