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Indonesia; Singapore: Airspace over Islands to Revert to Indonesia

(May 22, 2012) On May 16, 2012, an official from Singapore, Raj Kumar, stated that control of the airspace above the Indonesian Riau Islands could revert to Indonesia. Singapore has controlled that airspace since 1946, and Indonesia has been actively seeking to gain control since 1993. Kumar stated of the possible transfer of authority that “[t]here's no problem, if the ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] agrees to the matter,” and added that Singapore would be willing to assist with transferring technology as well, once the ICAO agrees. (Fadli, Singapore Willing to Return Riau Islands Airspace, THE JAKARTA POST (May 18, 2012).)

The Riau Islands are an archipelago located to the south of Singapore. According to a member of the Riau Islands Regional Representatives Council, Zulaikah Nasution, control of the airspace would benefit the region. “We should be able to manage what we own, and enhance human resources. We should have sovereignty over our airspace, as the area's economic potential is also huge,” he argued. (Id.)

The Secretary-General of Indonesia's Transportation Ministry, Afianti Samad, noted that Indonesia's Law on Aviation calls for the country to control all of its own airspace by 2024, at the latest. (Law No. 1, 2009, WORLD LAW GUIDE [scroll down to locate translation of Aviation Law & allow time for text to open]; text in Indonesian, LEMBARAN NEGARA REPUBLIK INDONESIA [Gazette of the Republic of Indonesia], Jan. 12, 2009, at 1-110, Global Legal Information Network, ID No. 237769.) He noted that at present, “Indonesia has sovereignty over its airspace, Singapore is just the party which manages it.” (Fadli, supra.)