20 Aug 2003

Forum told that upgrading of Christmas Island airport urgent

11:15 am on 20 August 2003

Fiji's foreign minister, Kaliopate Tavola, has said the upgrading of the runway at Christmas Island in Kiribati is now a matter of urgency for those airlines that need an emergency option en route to Hawaii.

During post-Forum dialogue talks with the United States, it was confirmed that the present airstrip used as an emergency option at Johnston Atoll will be closed as scheduled at the end of December.

The US said the Forum had left it too late to put in a request for any useable equipment to be donated to Christmas Island and that it had already been pledged elsewhere.

Mr Tavola, who chaired the meeting, said it was now up to the airlines that had a vested interested in the Christmas Island runway to take action.

"So what we have asked the Forum secretariat to do is to consult with those authorities, be they aviation authorities, aviation ministries or the airlines themselves to come together and consult with the governments concerned to make sure that after the closure of Johnston atoll Christmas Island airport comes on-line."


Fiji's Foreign Minister, Kaliopate Tavola.

The airlines that will be affected are those that fly two engine jets on the route including Air New Zealand, Air Pacific, Polynesian Air and Royal Tongan Airlines.