$200,000 Bud­get for pre­lim­i­nary works for new air­port in Seaqaqa

Matei Air­port run­way ex­pan­sion project al­lo­cated $150,000 to work to­gether with Air­ports Fiji

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Gov­ern­ment has set aside funds in the 2016-2017 Na­tional Bud­get to be­gin pre­lim­i­nary works for the de­vel­op­ment of a new air­port in or near Seaqaqa in Vanua Levu. The At­tor­ney-Gen­eral and Min­is­ter for Fi­nance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, an­nounced in his Bud­get ad­dress that $200,000 was be­ing set aside for this.

Air­ports Fiji Lim­ited will be the state-owned en­ter­prise re­spon­si­ble for con­duct­ing this ex­er­cise.

Air­ports Fiji ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, Faiz Khan, said the al­lo­ca­tion will as­sist them in car­ry­ing out proper fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies.

How­ever, he said they are yet to iden­tify a suit­able lo­ca­tion which their air­line part­ners agree to as be­ing fea­si­ble. Vanua Levu cur­rently has two air­ports, Labasa and Savusavu. How­ever, due to the lo­ca­tions of the run­way and the lengths, it is dif­fi­cult for larger air­crafts to land. At the same time, the air­ports do not have night land­ing fa­cil­i­ties. The tourism in­dus­try has been re­quest­ing for some time now for a new air­port to be built in the North or for the run­way in Savusavu to be ex­tended. The prob­lem for ex­tend­ing the run­way in Savusavu would be there is lit­tle room for ex­pan­sion given a hill at one end and sea at the other. And with the smaller planes fly­ing in to the North, this means there are fewer num­ber of visi­tors trav­el­ling to a lo­ca­tion where there are so many high end re­sorts. It means tourists are be­ing de­terred from vis­it­ing the North, tourism op­er­a­tors say.

Matei Air­port

Mean­while, Gov­ern­ment has also al­lo­cated $150,000 to work to­gether with Air­ports Fiji for the ex­pan­sion of the run­way at Matei Air­port in Tave­uni. The ex­pan­sion would al­low the run­way to ac­com­mo­date Fiji Link’s ATR 42 and 72 to im­prove con­nec­tiv­ity to Tave­uni. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said they hope to have this com­pleted within 18 months. Mr Khan said: “This is good news for the peo­ple of Tave­uni as Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to drive its vi­sion to con­nect peo­ple bet­ter from main lands to smaller is­lands and vice versa. “It will un­doubt­edly cre­ate eco­nomic growth in Tave­uni.”

Over­all re­ac­tion

Mean­while, Mr Khan said Gov­ern­ment has an­nounced in this bud­get is that it did what it had to do in the af­ter­math of un­prece­dented car­nage of Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Win­ston. “How­ever, it is go­ing to do more. We have to keep things in per­spec­tive. The Fi­jian econ­omy is rel­a­tively small and its abil­ity to re­act to a dis­as­ter of such a mag­ni­tude is lim­ited. “Ac­cord­ingly, Gov­ern­ment’s ac­tions and as­pi­ra­tions are highly com­mend­able.”

Air­ports Fiji Lim­ited ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, Faiz Khan, said the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion will as­sist them in car­ry­ing out proper fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies.

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