Singapore envoy refutes comments on flight information region

Indonesian officials 'misrepresented facts' in saying issue involves country's sovereignty

Singapore's Ambassador to Indonesia Anil Kumar Nayar explained the issue of a country's Flight Information Region in a post on Facebook, to counter comments made by two former senior Indonesian military officers in a news report. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore's top envoy in Indonesia said former Indonesian air force officers had misrepresented the facts when speaking to local media about the Singapore flight information region (FIR).

"Their comments, as reported, misrepresent the facts. First the administration of the FIR is not an issue of sovereignty," Singapore Ambassador to Indonesia Anil Kumar Nayar said. "It is based on operational and technical considerations to provide effective air traffic control services."

His letter to the chief editor of MetroTVnews was posted on the Singapore embassy's Facebook page yesterday.

The report in on Nov 30 carried the comments of a former Indonesian Air Force chief of staff, Air Chief Marshal (Retired) Chappy Hakim, and the chairman of the Air Power Centre of Indonesia, Air Vice-Marshal (Retired) Koesnadi Kardi.

Indonesia's ambition to become a major regional aviation player also involves reclaiming the FIR, which Singapore currently controls for take-offs, landings and overflights in the region.

In pushing to take over the Singapore FIR, some Indonesian officials have said Jakarta should have full control as it involves the country's sovereignty.

But Mr Nayar said: "The paramount priority is aviation safety. This complex issue is under the ambit of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and involves other countries and international users of the busy airspace covered by the FIR."

He added: "It is not unusual for the air traffic authorities of one country to provide air traffic management services in the territorial airspace of another country. Indonesia, for example, provides air traffic management services in airspace which belongs to other countries."

Referring to a reported comment by Mr Koesnadi that Indonesia "currently... only receive(s) a small slice of the cake" of Route Air Navigation Services (Rans), the envoy said this was untrue.

"All Rans charges that Singapore collects on behalf of Indonesia are remitted to the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Indonesia, less the bank transfer costs. And DGCA Indonesia has always found the accounts to be in order," he added.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last month: "Who controls the FIR is a technical matter of making the best arrangements for air safety. But it has been politicised and made into an issue of sovereignty and national pride... that unfortunately makes the problem much harder to solve."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2017, with the headline Singapore envoy refutes comments on flight information region. Subscribe