SUNBIZ

Labasa Airport Temporary Closure For Upgrade Will Benefit The Northern Division

While responding to our queries, Fiji Airports said: “The appropriate and timely maintenance of our network of airports is vital and in the absence of same, we risk closure for a long period of time.
12 Nov 2019 04:14
Labasa Airport Temporary Closure For Upgrade Will Benefit The Northern Division
Labasa Airport in Waiqele. Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

The temporary closure of Labasa Airport will benefit the people of the Northern Division and the country as a whole, says Northern Air chief executive, Captain Rainjash San.

Captain San said they had agreed with Fiji Airports Limited on the maintenance and upgrading work to proceed, however, he suggested that it would be done during the off-peak period.

“Given the opportunity now, if we don’t agree with them, when does it get done then, whether it be done now or later, every airline is going to get affected.”

He added that Fiji Airports has their statistics of passengers travelling in and out of the airports, “maybe they should consider that as a deciding factor for the right time for them to do maintenance when there is the least number of people travelling to that destination”.

“But otherwise, we are for the upgrade, anything that happens for the purpose of safety, we are with Fiji Airports.

“It’s a give and take process, but for the airline, it does affect us.

“Whatever needs to be done needs to be done and we need to allow these things to happen, but I would appreciate that all these things happened during the off-peak period,” he said.

Northern Air chief executive, Captain Rainjash San.

Northern Air chief executive, Captain Rainjash San.

While responding to our queries,  Fiji Airports said: “The appropriate and timely maintenance of our network of airports is vital and in the absence of same, we risk closure for a long period of time.

“The scheduled maintenance of Labasa and all other outer-island airports was discussed with the domestic airlines and published in the newspapers for implementation.

“These developments come at an obvious and substantial cost to Fiji Airports. In 2018 alone Fiji Airports ran a deficit of $18.9 million in running its network of airports at Nausori and outer islands.

“There is obviously no business case for Fiji Airports to undertake these developments.

“This underscores Fiji Airports ongoing commitment to providing for the long term benefit for the people and economy of these destinations. By providing air connectivity to the remote destinations of Fiji we enhance and better the lives of our Fijian people.”

According to public notice by Fiji Airports, as part of their ongoing Outer Island Airports Development Programme the following airports would be temporarily closed for runway upgrades:

Labasa: April 20 – May 5, 2020

Bureta (Levuka): November 11- November 28, 2019

Lakeba: December 4- December 10, 2019

Vunisea (Kadavu): February 6 – March 26, 2020

Labasa airport works would continue through to July 10, 2019, and would require flight scheduling management.

“At least when Labasa Airport is closed, there is Savusavu and when they do work in Savusavu they can go to Labasa, but for Outer Island, they have to be very careful,” Captain San said.

He added that the closure would be inconvenient for the travelling public and it would cost them too.

He was disappointed that Fiji Airports had chosen the peak period to do the works in Levuka because “only the Northern Air would be affected”.

Labasa Chamber of Commerce president Satish Kumar said even though it would affect the business operations in Vanua Levu, however, it would be for a short period of time and at the end, “it’s for the betterment of everyone”.

He added that they had always been requesting for the upgrade of the Airport.

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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