Indonesia's government is set to take over control of the airspace above the Riau Islands from Singapore, the Jakarta Globe reported on Tuesday (Sep 8).
According to the newspaper, the issue was discussed during a cabinet meeting after lawmakers called for action on the matter following the Indonesian military’s “complaints about the city-state's alleged violations with its fighter-jet drills and its protests against Indonesian military aircraft presence in the area”.
Indonesia Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said that President Joko Widodo “has instructed us to prepare better equipment, better personnel over the next three or four years so that we can take over the management of our own airspace, which has been hitherto delegated to Singapore".
Mr Jonan said that Singapore had been in control of flights in the airspace above Riau Islands - including Batam, Tanjungpinang, Bintan and the Natuna islands - since 1946.
“We also will talk with Singapore and Malaysia. And when we're ready, we'll take over the airspace,” Mr Jonan told the Jakarta Globe.
The bilateral pact, which allowed the Singapore military to conduct activities in the airspace above the Riau Islands, expired in 2001 and has never been renewed, reported the Jakarta Globe.
On the other hand, Singapore has “repeatedly protested Indonesian military aircraft presence in the area, claiming they must first obtain clearance from the Singaporean authorities before they can fly through the zone”.
This, according to the Jakarta Globe, has “triggered the ire” of Indonesian military officials and lawmakers.