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Seletar Airport flight procedures pose no risk to Pasir Gudang port, says Khaw

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Johor's Pasir Gudang industrial area, seen from Punggol Point. The ILS for Seletar Airport will not pose safety or security risks to operations at the Pasir Gudang port, Mr Khaw has said.

Singapore

TRANSPORT Minister Khaw Boon Wan has stressed that Singapore's plans to introduce an Instrument Landing System (ILS) for Seletar Airport - which will provide pilots with a recommended flight path to and from the airport - will not pose any safety or security risks to operations at Johor's Pasir Gudang port.

He was responding on Dec 12 to remarks made by his Malaysian counterpart Anthony Loke. In a 90-second video posted on his Facebook page, Mr Loke claimed that the Pasir Gudang port would encounter higher risks due to the height restrictions that Singapore wants to set for Seletar's ILS. He said: "Even a crane would break the height limit. We can't even build tall buildings over Pasir Gudang if we allow that flight path."

Speaking to reporters, Mr Khaw said: "I've watched the video: It's a good video. I commend their video team but I think it contains a few inaccuracies."

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Referring to Mr Loke's comments on safety concerns with regard to the height restrictions proposed, Mr Khaw said: "That is not how ILS works. ILS is like auto pilot in an aircraft. It is a tool for the pilot . The pilot can always have manual intervention if security concerns require it. The pilot retains full control throughout the flight."

He added: "The key point is if it were a technical concern, and with goodwill, I am confident a mutually satisfactory technical solution can be found. But I think the situation seems to be using this technical excuse to trigger a demand to change the airspace arrangement."

Malaysia has said it wants to take back air traffic services for the airspace over southern Johor which were delegated to Singapore in 1974.

Mr Khaw stressed that the arrangement "has worked very well, benefiting all stakeholders in this region", so he was "truly baffled" by Malaysia's recent stance.

The first signs of Singapore-Malaysia tensions over Seletar Airport came to light on Nov 23 when Malaysian carrier Firefly announced that it would suspend all flights to Singapore from Dec 1, the day it was supposed to move its operations from Changi to Seletar Airport. Two days later, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) explained that this was because the Malaysia Airlines subsidiary had not received approval from its regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), to make the move.

Firefly had first agreed in 2014 that it would transfer all operations to a new passenger terminal to be built at Seletar to handle turboprop flights, which it operates. According to CAAM, there are regulatory issues that need to be resolved between the civil aviation authorities of both countries over the proposed move, as well as outstanding airspace issues.

Since the suspension of flights, Firefly has asked for its previous landing slots at Changi Airport to be returned. Asked if Singapore would consider this, Mr Khaw indicated that might not be possible.

He said: "Firefly knew that we are shifting them to Seletar and they have planned on that basis. They inspected Seletar. They are very pleased with Seletar Airport and as a result, months ago, they applied for slots in Seletar and we welcome them there and their slots in Changi have therefore been given up and redistributed to other airlines."