Friday, 11 September 2015

Indonesia to take over control of airspace above Riau Islands from Singapore

TODAY, 9 Sep 2015

Indonesia wants to reclaim control of its airspace above the Riau Islands from Singapore, announced Indonesia Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan, explaining that this came after complaints from the Indonesian military that Singapore’s fighter jet drills have violated Indonesian airspace, while the Singaporean side has also protested the presence of Indonesian military aircraft in the area.

In response, Mr K Shanmugam, Singapore’s Law and Foreign Affairs Minister, said today (Sept 9) that any such move would have implications for the Republic’s position as an aviation hub, noting that the current set of regulations was put in place with the approval of the global aviation authorities.

The issue was discussed during a Cabinet meeting in Jakarta yesterday, and the discussion was reportedly prompted in part by lawmakers’ calls for the government to quickly address the problem.

“The President has instructed us to prepare better equipment, better personnel over the next three or four years so that we can take over the management of our own airspace, which has been hitherto delegated to Singapore,” Mr Jonan said.

He explained that Singapore had been in control of flights in the airspace above some areas in Indonesia’s Riau Islands province, such as Batam, Tanjung Pinang, Bintan and the Natuna islands, which border the city-state, since 1946.

The airspace controlled by Singaporean air traffic controllers — also known a Flight Information Region (FIR), where relevant information and alerting services are provided — is delineated through international agreements with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

When asked by TODAY to comment on Jakarta’s announcement, Mr Shanmugam pointed out today that under an agreement with the Indonesian government, Singapore’s air traffic controllers handle the FIR beyond the country’s borders and over Sumatra. The fees collected for services provided in the FIR are handed over to Jakarta.

He said that Singapore’s management of this particular FIR is sanctioned by the ICAO, with the decision made based on a variety of factors, and if there is any change, it could affect Singapore’s status as an aviation hub.

If there is any change to the agreement, any change obviously impacts on us as an aviation hub and the (tens of thousands of) jobs in Singapore.

But ultimately, there’s a function of size, because our air space, if you look at it, starts in Changi and ends in Jurong, and a little bit beyond the physical land mass, but that’s basically it,” said the minister.

“Under a series of agreements that we had negotiated in the best interest of Singapore and of our neighbours, including Indonesia, we have been able to structure these sorts of arrangements, which I think most Singaporeans are not aware of, but which are vital to regional air safety, which are vital in the interests of countries involved, and which are vital to our aviation jobs.”

Besides reclaiming the airspace from Singapore, Indonesia also plans to take over the control of airspace above its regions bordering Malaysia in North Kalimantan.

Indonesia, on the other hand, controls the airspace above some areas of Timor-Leste, and above Australia’s Christmas Island and New Zealand’s Auckland Island, according to Mr Jonan.

“We also will talk with Singapore and Malaysia. And when we’re ready, we’ll take over (the airspace),” Mr Jonan said.

According to Indonesian media reports, the Indonesian Air Force has recently complained about Singapore’s military activities in the airspace above the Riau Islands, particularly above Bintan Island, as a bilateral military pact that allows such activities expired in 2001 and has never been renewed.

Singapore, on the other hand, has also protested Indonesian military aircraft presence in the area, stating that they must first obtain clearance from the Singaporean authorities before they can fly through the zone so as to ensure air safety, drawing the ire of the Indonesian side.

Indonesian military chief Gatot Nurmantyo warned Singapore yesterday not to conduct air force training in the FIR area without permission from Indonesia, saying that Singapore had only the authority to manage operational air traffic navigation, in line with the 1944 Chicago Convention on the FIR.

“If it is a military training conducted without Indonesia’s permission, then it has entered Indonesia’s (territory) and violates the international convention,” said Mr Nurmantyo.

“Therefore, Indonesia’s Air Force keeps on patrolling. If there are military aircraft there conducting military training, it is the duty of the Air Force to remind them and drive them out of there.” 

AGENCIES WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY TAN WEIZHEN




Indonesia is set to take over the control of its airspace above the Riau Islands from Singapore.
Posted by The Jakarta Globe on Tuesday, September 8, 2015





Singaporean fighter jet drills in Indonesian airspace have drawn the ire of TNI.
Posted by The Jakarta Globe on Tuesday, September 8, 2015






Singapore's air deals vital to aviation safety: Shanmugam
The Straits Times, 10 Sep 2015

Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said agreements negotiated by Singapore are vital to regional air safety and the interests of the countries involved, after the Indonesian government said it is looking to take over control of the airspace above Riau and Riau Islands provinces from Singapore.

Mr Shanmugam said that the current set of regulations was put in place with the approval of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered officials on Tuesday to start working on improving their personnel and equipment, so that the country could take over management of the airspace, according to a report by The Jakarta Post.

"The President instructed us to prepare better equipment and human resources so that, in three or four years, we can manage our own airspace," Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan told a press conference after a Cabinet meeting, adding that Indonesia would hold talks with Singapore, as well as Malaysia, about the issue.

He said Singapore had been in control of flights in the airspace above some areas in Riau - such as Batam, Tanjung Pinang, Bintan and the Natuna islands - since 1946.

The Indonesian Air Force recently complained about Singapore's military activities in the airspace above Riau Islands, particularly over Bintan. Lieutenant-Colonel I. Ketut Wahyu Wijaya, commander of the Indonesian Air Force base in Tanjung Pinang, said a bilateral military pact that allows such activities expired in 2001 and has never been renewed due to objections by Indonesian lawmakers and concerns over national sovereignty, reported The Jakarta Globe.

Speaking yesterday at the end of the Nee Soon GRC People's Action Party press conference, Mr Shanmugam acknowledged that Singapore's air traffic controllers are responsible for looking after the area.

"Today, under an agreement with the Indonesian government, our air traffic controllers handle the flight information region beyond our borders and over Sumatra, but the fees collected for that are handed over to the Indonesian government. This is something that is sanctioned by the ICAO by looking at the variety of issues."

He noted that tens of thousands of jobs are dependent on Singapore's position as a regional aviation hub, and any change in the current arrangements would have implications.

"Under a series of agreements that we had negotiated in the best interest of Singapore and our neighbours, including Indonesia, we have been able to structure these sorts of arrangements which I think most Singaporeans are not aware of but which are vital to regional air safety, which are vital in the interest of the countries involved, and which are vital to our own aviation jobs. Any change in that can have potential consequences for all of this," said Mr Shanmugam.




#DidYouKnow: What is a Flight Information Region (FIR)?FIR is a specific region of airspace in which flight...
Posted by Ministry of Transport, Singapore on Friday, November 27, 2015




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