Vanuatu airport head frustrated by ongoing runway saga
Airports Vanuatu says repairs at Bauerfield Airport that consultants said would last a year have lasted little more than three months.
The Airports Vanuatu Chair says repairs at Bauerfield Airport that consultants said would last a year have failed.
Back in January Air New Zealand and Qantas withdrew their services to Port Vila citing concerns over the safety of the runway.
A World Bank-funded overhaul of the industry was launched with the bank sending a team to look at the short term repair of the runway and designs for longer term rehabilitation.
Repairs were made in May and expected to be able to see the runway through to next year when a broader resolution could be concluded
However last week more repairs had to be made when gaps were found in the runway by staff.
Virgin Australia halted their services temporarily before resuming again.
Bakoa Kaltongga told Koro Vaka'uta about the problems.
BAKOA KALTONGGA: These were areas that we want done but we were advised previously that they would last 12 months. We have people working on it and have already completed repairs on it and we have identified certain parts that probably need more than just applying the usual treatment.
KORO VAKA'UTA: Does this give credence to some of the concerns, for example from Air New Zealand who haven't resumed flights and have said they wouldn't until more comprehensive repairs were done. Does this give credence to those concerns?
BK: Air New Zealand's requirements are obviously different from Air Vanuatu and some other airlines because they cannot afford people to be here assessing the risk all the time but we have the benefit here of having the head office here and having our people and personnel here assessing the risk, deeming it OK for airlines to fly in and out. Because the rehabilitation is temporary work, the actual work, which is the phase two of the loan, that's what Air New Zealand wanted. But, as you know, flights are coming in and out and Air New Zealand has decided to wait until of course phase two starts. We have done enough to keep the runway operational and we have made the decision that within the next week we will apply more permanent repair work to enable the runway to operate until phase two of the loan which was upgrading Bauerfield from Code C to full Code E status.
KV: How much of a blow has it been that this has taken a while to get resolved, to things like tourism which is so important to Vanuatu?
BK: When we lose a flight you lose about $300,000 spend in the country so when you lose three flights or four flights a week, you are losing a million dollars that which actually benefit the country. We've just started picking up when flights resumed and now we are facing this challenge again. Obviously it's going a negative affect but we just need to deal with the problem and get this sorted out.
KV: Where does the responsibility lie for all of this?
BK: As Ni-Vanuatu we need to be vigilant. Our people need to concentrate and know what is essential for Vanuatu. We need to know what exactly we want to be done to keep the airport operational and get the flights in and out without any problems. We can't be listening to other people telling us what to do and then find out later on down the line that we have to readdress the same issue and it has an affect on the country. The onus is us to make sure that next time, if we do get finance and do make repairs and do go ahead with certain developments, it has to be practical and it has to work for us.
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