Tensions de-escalate between Malaysia and Singapore over airspace dispute

Previously, Malaysia had to suspend Johor Bahru port limits off Tanjung Piai and Singapore port limits off Tuas due to Singapore’s implementation of ILS (Instrument Landing System), a GPS-based instrument to assist pilots during landing even with poor weather conditions.


The Selatar Airport, located in Singapore and the South of Johor’s Pasir Gudang, gained high media attention during the end of December until January when FireFly was forced to suspend its flights to the airport.


Malaysia, Malaysia Indicator, Singapore, FireFly


During that period, Malaysia seeks to reclaim its airspace citing concerns over sovereignty and national interest. The topic garnered the attention of a few ministers.


Malaysians Transport Minister Anthony Loke told Singapore that implementing ILS would affect the development of Pasir Gudang, as even mobile cranes at Pasir Gudang would obstruct the flight path threshold of planes landing near the airport, not to mention tall buildings and ports along Pasir Gudang.


Whereas Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan initially claimed the ILs would not affect the development of Pasir Gudang and its trades. He also appeared in articles proposing measurements to the suspension of government vessels travelling near the area.


Malaysia, Malaysia Indicator, Singapore, FireFly


Comparing the media exposure between the two countries, Singapore’s news portals produced a higher number of articles compared to Malaysia’s.


The Edge Markets reported on how the dispute is hurting FireFly’s business, while The Straits Times focused on how the ILS helps pilots land during bad weather.


Malaysia, Malaysia Indicator, Singapore, FireFly


Last year, budget airline FireFly had to suspend its flights to Seletar Airport amidst the airspace dispute between both countries. Several months later, FireFly announced that they will resume their operations at Seletar Airport on April 21.


Today, both countries have come to an agreement to resolve the issue, after both country’s Prime Ministers met up to discuss various issues between both countries. Malaysia is willing to suspend the port limits, and Singapore would withdraw the use of ILS.