End finally in sight for Vanuatu’s runway woes

End finally in sight for Vanuatu’s runway woes

Emergency repairs to the runway at Vanuatu’s Bauerfield International Airport will be completed by April, with resolution of the issue considered “imperative” for the sake of the country’s tourism industry.

Both Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia suspended their flights to the airport in mid-January due to concerns over the safety of the runway with Qantas suspending its codeshare with Air Vanuatu.

An emergency meeting held on Wednesday last week saw prime minister Charlot Salwai award the contract to New Zealand company Fulton Hogan. The company will sign the contract over the coming days, with the repairs expected to be completed with 56 days of signing.

Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) general manager Linda Kalpoi welcomed the announcement of the contract and impending repairs, which are expected to cost VT139 million (AUD$1,770,428).

“Ensuring all airlines are fully satisfied with the standard of the runway giving them the confidence to reinstate their flights is imperative to the success of Vanuatu’s tourism industry,” Ms Kalpoi said.

“We are very happy the new Prime Minister has acknowledged the importance and urgency of this matter and has addressed the issue promptly.”

Air Vanuatu, Fiji Airways, Aircalin and Solomon Airways are all operating as normal to Port Vila  after conducting their own independent safety assessments of the runway.

Air NZ, Virgin and Qantas are expected to reassess the runway once the emergency repairs have been completed. While Virgin Australia is currently taking bookings to Port Vila from April 2, Air New Zealand is yet to confirm when it will re-instate its services.

The second phase of upgrading the airport will begin from July, Airports Vanuatu Limited revealed.

Image credit: iStock



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