The Jakarta Post
Air Force commander Air Marshal Agus Supriatna has assured members of the Riau Islands Legislative Council (DPRD Riau) that Indonesia is ready to take control of the flight information region (FIR) over the province from Singapore.
The secretary of the council's Commission III on legal and security affairs, Surya Makmur Nasution said Supriatna told the DPRD members that the country was ready to handle the FIR when councilors arrive to visit the Air Force headquarters in Jakarta on Wednesday.
'Our equipment is ready to manage the civil flights. The Air Force commander told us that Indonesia is ready to take over and we would take control of it from Singapore in 2019,' Surya told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the meeting.
A FIR is a specified region of airspace in which flight information and alert services (ALRS) are provided. Singapore has been managing the FIR over the Riau Islands area since 1946. Indonesia has been trying since 1993 to take over the airspace without success.
Singapore controls the airspace that reaches 110 nautical miles from its position, covering Batam, Dumai and Natuna islands. The Singapore-controlled airspace is divided into three sectors: Sector A covers Batam airspace, Sector B covers Tanjung Pinang and Karimun and Sector C covers Natuna.
According to Surya, if the airspace control was fully returned to Indonesia, it would generate additional revenue for the Riau Islands from planes flying over the province before they landed in Singapore's Changi Airport.
'We saw the potential revenue for the province. But, firstly, we are pushing that the airspace be fully controlled by Indonesia,' he said.
Earlier, Batam's Hang Nadim International Airport general affairs head Suwarso said local authorities had followed up an instruction from President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo who requested that Indonesia take over the FIR.
'It's now in process. The discussion [of the takeover] could be conducted as early as 2020, according to the schedule decided by ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization],' Suwarso said.
As another step toward the FIR takeover, Indonesia had established special air navigation (AirNav) that managed airspace in the country, Suwarso added.
Since Jan. 1 this year, he said, Hang Nadim airport had collected flight service fees from Singapore worth an average Rp 3 billion (US$214,285) per month and handed over the money to AirNav.
'In the future, when the airspace is taken over, Indonesia will collect the service fee from planes flying over our airspace. The amount could be bigger [than Rp 3 billion],' he added.
Suwarso also said that state airport operators PT Angkasa Pura I and II had rejuvenated their air navigation equipment, giving training to officers who would control the airspace.
'Batam will become a base for the FIR control room,' he added.
The planned takeover was in accordance with Law No. 1/2009 on aviation, which stipulates that airspace above Indonesia must be controlled by the Indonesian government and that the country must take back airspace controlled by foreign parties within 15 years from the law being enacted.
Indonesia has reportedly held meetings with Singapore dozens of times, asking the city state to return control of the airspace. But the meetings had been fruitless as Indonesia had not been capable of lobbying the neighboring country, sources in Hang Nadim airports said.
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