20 Apr 2016

Vanuatu's upgraded runway useable, says World Bank

12:25 pm on 20 April 2016

The upgraded runway at Vanuatu's main international airport, Bauerfield, has been surveyed by the World Bank which says the rehabilitation plan on track.

Short-term repair work has been carried out after safety concerns about the runway in January led to the suspension of all Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand flights.

The Bank made available a $US59 million loan to cover both the just-completed short term and long-term upgrades of the runway.

Vanuatu's main international airport Bauerfield at Port Vila

Vanuatu's main international airport Bauerfield at Port Vila Photo: RNZI/Beverley Tse

The World Bank's country director for the Pacific, Franz Drees-Gross, said following the the repairs carried out by New Zealand contractor Fulton Hogan, the runway is useable for 12 months.

"Emergency repairs have been done quite expeditiously and quite well, so I think that part of the plan is well underway. and we're just here in these days, finalising the discussions with the government about the exact scope of the full-scale rehabilitation."

However, Air New Zealand recently said it would not be resuming flights to Port Vila until proposals for the long term runway upgrade were finalised and a contractor engaged for the project.

World Bank discusses Vanuatu airport completion

The World Bank said it is continuing talks with the government to finalise the plan for the long-term upgrade of the runway.

Franz Drees-Gross said parties are already looking towards the necessary work over the next year.

"So Fulton Hogan was the contractor which did the emergency repairs. And there's a company called Tonkin Taylor that does the designs. They're an engineering company that does designs, bidding documents and the like. And they're working on that next step which is the full-blown rehabilitation of the full 2600-metre runway."

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