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Labasa Chamber calls for resolution to runway drama, Government, Pacific Sun, AFL sit for roundtable talks By JYOTI PRATIBHA Government officials are meeting with Airports Fiji Limited (AFL) and the
05 Oct 2012 14:08

Labasa Chamber calls for resolution to runway drama, Government, Pacific Sun, AFL sit for roundtable talks

By JYOTI PRATIBHA

Government officials are meeting with Airports Fiji Limited (AFL) and the Pacific Sun management team today to see how best the Labasa airport issue can be resolved.
AFL chief executive officer Tony Gollins confirmed that a meeting was scheduled for today between Government, his team and Pacific Sun.
Civil Aviation Permanent Secretary Elizabeth Powell said more on the issue will be discussed after the meeting.
Also, the Labasa Chamber of Commerce says businesses in the North have been severely affected by the recent suspension of flights by Pacific Sun.
Its senior vice president Satish Kumar said this was a busy period for businesses in Labasa. But they were being hurt because Pacific Sun is only operating into Savusavu, which takes smaller Twin Otter planes.
“Many businessmen here rely on getting their goods from Suva. That has not been happening and we here are suffering.
“This is the time when many overseas visitors start arriving in the country and those who would have normally come to Labasa are being put off by the additional cost of flying to Labasa via Savusavu.
“Business houses here capitalise on the crushing seasons and with only two months left for this year to end, this decision is adversely affecting us,” Mr Kumar said.
Pacific Sun suspended their flights to Labasa following concerns that the runway was not safe for its ATR-42  aircraft to operate on following repair work on the runway.
Mr Kumar said the Chamber was appealing to the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to get involved in talks between Airports Fiji Limited and Pacific Sun.
He said he was also scheduled to fly to China on Saturday but the extra cost involved in flying via Savusavu was an added burden that many people would not be able to bear.
Mr Gollins said they had worked on the Labasa Airport recently and for the chip seal surface to fully settle, it would require time and constant compression of the surface.
“The problem with that type of work is that it takes some time to cure and to be cured, it needs to be heated in sun and continue to be rolled so that the chips are completely compact. This however, would need time,” he said.
Mr Gollins said they were hoping to meet with the officials of Pacific Sun to see how best the situation could be resolved.
Pacific Sun general manager Shaenaz Voss maintained that they would not be able to give a definite time as to when flights to Labasa could resume.
“We’re unable to give a date for resumption of operations, as we await feedback from AFL with regards,” she said.
Following an extensive inspection and analysis of the Labasa airport runway by New Zealand civil engineering company Downer Ltd, Pacific Sun cancelled all flights to Labasa airport. This was done in order to allow AFL and other stakeholderstime to assess the Downer Ltd, Labasa Airport Inspection Report and determine actions and next steps that will allow resumption of large commercial aircraft operations.




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