Tuesday, September 26, 2023

FIR Realignment Gives Back 250,000 Sq Km Airspace to Indonesia

Heru Andriyanto
February 2, 2022 | 2:01 pm
An F-16C jetfighter belonging to the Indonesian Air Forces lands at the Raden Sadjad Airstrip on Natuna Island on January 7, 2020. (Antara Photo/M Risyal Hidayat)
An F-16C jetfighter belonging to the Indonesian Air Forces lands at the Raden Sadjad Airstrip on Natuna Island on January 7, 2020. (Antara Photo/M Risyal Hidayat)

Jakarta. Indonesia will reclaim around 250,000 square kilometers of its airspace from Singapore after both countries agreed to realign the Flight Information Region or FIR above Riau Islands Province and Natuna last month.

However, Jakarta will allow Singapore to continue managing 29 percent of the realigned FIR in areas close to the Changi International Airport, Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said on Monday.

“After the signing of the MoU on FIR Realignment between Indonesia and Singapore on January 25, 2022, Indonesia’s 249,575 square kilometers airspace that is currently within the Singapore FIR will be internationally recognized as the Indonesia FIR,” Budi said in a statement.

“This is certainly a welcome result after decades of attempts [to retake control of the FIR] without much success,” he added.

FIR Realignment Gives Back 250,000 Sq Km Airspace to Indonesia
(Photo Courtesy of the Transportation Ministry)

Indonesia has been attempting to win back airspace control over Riau Islands and Natuna since 1995 but a lack of technological and manpower support makes the struggle toothless and ineffective. 

Since President Joko Widodo took office in 2014, the government has intensified negotiations with the neighbor to reclaim the FIR and ordered inter-agency works to ensure that the country is fully prepared to regulate the crowded airspace and launch effective diplomacy.

There have been at least 40 meetings on the issue since 2015 involving related ministries and the Indonesian Military, Budi said.

A key point on the MoU states that Indonesia will allow Singapore to manage 29 percent of the realigned Jakarta FIR at an altitude of up to 37,000 feet.

The delegated areas are located around Changi Airport to prevent flight safety risks that may occur due to fragmented air traffic control, the minister added.

The Indonesian Civil Aviation Authority will assign officials to work with the Singapore Air Traffic Control Center in regulating inbound and outbound flights in the areas and ensure compliance with international regulations.

State-owned air navigation operator AirNav Indonesia will provide services for air traffic above Batam Airport and Tanjung Pinang located inside the delegated areas, Budi said.

The agreement was signed on Bintan Island near Singapore on January 25, witnessed by the Indonesian president and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 

The Singapore Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed that Indonesia will delegate to Singapore the provision of air navigation services in portions of the airspace within the realigned Jakarta FIR. 

“This Agreement will remain in force for 25 years and shall be extended by mutual consent if both parties find it beneficial to do so,” the ministry said in a statement. 

The FIR Realignment Agreement will be submitted for approval to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in accordance with an agreed procedure.

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