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Rotuma Upgrade Will Allow ATR72-600 Flights: AFL Boss

Airports Fiji Limited is working on developments which would enable Fiji Link’s ATR72-600 planes to land in Rotuma by the end of next year. Airports Fiji Limited executive chairman Faiz
13 Dec 2016 11:00
Rotuma Upgrade Will Allow ATR72-600 Flights: AFL Boss
Executive Chair of Airports Fiji Limited, Faiz Khan.

Airports Fiji Limited is working on developments which would enable Fiji Link’s ATR72-600 planes to land in Rotuma by the end of next year.

Airports Fiji Limited executive chairman Faiz Khan spoke of this during the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) workshop for Pacific Island States at Tanoa International Hotel, Nadi, yesterday.

He said: “In 2016 we have signed a contract for development of Rotuma airstrip, which will allow from the end of next year ATR 72-600s to be landing in Rotuma.

“That is really big for Rotuma and Fiji as well, Rotuma is about 600km from Nadi, the isolation sector of Rotuma in itself, in the local framework, is quite immense.

The Project will be quite challenging itself.”

He also highlighted some of the reasons for the current lack of flights to Rotuma.

This includes the limitations of the current Rotuma airstrip, and the distance. This means long flights over water by smaller Fiji Link Twin Otters with restricted passenger and cargo loads.

Fiji Link has previously explained that the operational limitations force it to charge the fares it does on Rotuma flights.

Mr Khan said many people of Rotuman heritage he had spoken to had never been to Rotuma. Reasons included the lack of frequency and limited seats.

Mr Khan talked of the year just ending for the country’s airports and air traffic management operator and plans for the years ahead.

He said: “From our analysis 2016 is arguably the best year Airports Fiji Limited has ever had. We have seen phenomenal increases in the way in which we are developing our infrastructure.

“We look at the Nadi Airport terminal modernisation project. It has seen immense progress in 2016, and we should be completing in April, May of next year.”

More Developments

Mr Khan also highlighted the upgrade plans that were being well thought-out in Fiji.

“In Vanua Levu there have been feasibility studies that are being conducted to locate the possible and ideal place for an international airport.

“We have got Matai (Taveuni) where we have a consultant engaged to do a scoping study for the Matai runway.”

He said after several years of consultation, they finally managed to finalise a deal with various landing owning units to upgrade the Nausori (Suva) runway.

This would allow expanded operations by Boeing 737 jets such as those operated by Fiji Airways.

Fiji Airways currently normally operates the smallest of its Boeing 737s, the 737-700, into Nausori because of the operational limitations. The Boeing 737-700 provides direct links from the capital with Auckland (New Zealand) and Sydney (Australia).

Mr Khan said Airports Fiji Limited is aiming for greater connectivity, not just from Nadi to the rest of the world but across also within Fiji.

EDIted by: kathrin krishna



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