Malaysia’s government, in protest of Seletar Airport’s intention to operate a new instrument landing system (ILS), says it wants to take back airspace over south Johor that has been delegated to Singapore.

Singapore unilaterally decided on new commercial flight paths into and out of Seletar Airport that encroach into Malaysian airspace, Malaysia’s transport minister told parliament today.

It is now an issue of sovereignty, says the minister Anthony Loke. He added that even though Singapore manages southern Johor airspace, it should have consulted Malaysia beforehand.

He says noise from low flying aircraft will cause a disturbance to households and businesses. The subsequent height restrictions that will have to be imposed will also limit development and port activities in Pasir Gudang.

Loke says Malaysia now intends to take back its airspace in phases. This will occur between 2019 and 2023 under the framework of the 1974 agreement between both nations on Singapore airspace, he adds.

Loke says Malaysia’s foreign ministry issued Singapore an objection on 28 and 29 November. Despite this, Singapore went ahead and publicised the new flight paths on 1 December.

Singapore’s Ministry of Transport says the new flight paths had already been shared with Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAAM) last December. The Singaporean ministry adds that it had not received any substantive response until CAAM’s protests in late November.

Singapore also says the new flight paths are unlikely to impact Johor’s businesses and residents. The new flight paths follow long-standing flight profiles into Seletar Airport and respect current buildings in Pasir Gudang, it says.

The Singapore transport ministry adds that it respects Malaysia desire to provide air traffic services. However, any bid would need to abide by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) laws, it says. Singapore manages airspace in southern Johor under the 1974 agreement which was approved by ICAO.

The row came to fore when Malaysia’s Firefly announced it had not received CAAM permits to fly to Seletar Airport. The turboprop operator was due to move to Seletar from Changi Airport on 1 December. However, the announcement meant that it had to suspend services indefinitely.