8 Aug 2016

Vanuatu losing $1m a week over airport saga

5:52 am on 8 August 2016

The chair of Airports Vanuatu says the ongoing runway saga at the country's main international airport is costing the country a million dollars a week.

Vanuatu's main international airport Bauerfield at Port Vila

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

In January, Air New Zealand withdrew its services to Port Vila and Qantas pulled out of a codeshare arrangement over concerns about the safety of the runway there.

The government sought a World Bank loan, and short-term repairs were carried out in May, which were designed to last 12 months while a longer term solution was sought.

But last week work had to be carried out again after staff spotted a gap opening up in part of the runway.

Virgin Australia subsequently halted services, but they resumed again on Sunday after the airline's experts gave the runway the all-clear.

Bakoa Kaltongga said full flights are worth about 300 thousand dollars in spending to the local economy.

"When you lose three flights or four flights in a week, you're losing a million dollars that would actually benefit the country," he said.

"We had just started picking up when flights resumed. Now we are facing this challenge again. Obviously it's going to have an affect but we just have to deal with the problem and get this sorted out."