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Infrastructure Development, Modernisation Seen To Address Our Isolation

Government’s infrastructure development and modernisation plans are seen beneficial not only for better connectivity with the world but to address our own isolation challenges. These sentiments have been highlighted by
19 Dec 2016 11:00
Infrastructure Development, Modernisation Seen To Address Our Isolation
Delegates attending the regional International Civil Aviation Organisation workshop in Nadi the past week.

Government’s infrastructure development and modernisation plans are seen beneficial not only for better connectivity with the world but to address our own isolation challenges.

These sentiments have been highlighted by Airports Fiji Limited executive chairman, Faiz Khan.

The comments followed the conclusion of the International Civil Aviation Organisation workshop in Nadi the past week.

Government’s modernisation plans are already being led by Fiji Airways and Airports Fiji Limited with acquisition of newer planes and developing modernised airports.

These developments either link Fiji to the rest of the world or link remote islands within Fiji to the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

Mr Khan said: “These developments are a necessity due to our isolation challenges. We have always known that.

“But now we see action to address the challenges through developments and modernisation.”

Works on modernising the Nadi International Airport are ongoing nearing completion in April next year. But Mr Khan says this will not mean an end to airport infrastructure upgrades.

“Airports keep developing and we want to ensure we keep improving the passenger experience that we provide to people travelling,” he said.

“Apart from Nadi, we have other smaller airports which we have plans to develop over the next five years including the Nausori International Airport.

“We have plans to develop the Rotuman Airstrip to accommodate the ATR72s to be flying there which will open Rotuma to Fiji and also Tuvalu.

“Rotuma upgrade has been a work in progress, a dream and a desire for past 30 plus years.

“It is good to see action now being taken to upgrade it. Larger aircrafts and greater frequency means Rotuma will become closer to the rest of Fiji than what it is today.”

 

The workshop

Meanwhile, Mr Khan told ABC  news he was pleased that the Pacific is being included in wider discussions about civil aviation.

Specialists in the sector attended a regional workshop in Nadi the past week, organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Mr Khan said these workshops are often only held in more developed countries, and it means Pacific islands have been missing out on opportunities to improve air safety and connectivity.

He pointed out one of the issues for not only Fiji but the Pacific was our isolation from the rest of the world.

“The overall goal is to ensure safe, integrated, efficient and sustainable air travel in the Pacific,” Mr Khan said.

“The level or frequency of travel in the Pacific is significantly lower than in Asia and Europe and the rest of the more developed world.

“However, that does not mean safety issues can be compromised.”

Mr Khan said one of the key things which affect the Pacific is for example search and rescue.

“Currently we don’t have an understanding for search and rescue if the need arises,” he pointed out.

“I think the Pacific Island Countries need to work together in understanding what those challenges are and come up with an understanding and how to approach these issues should they arise in future.”

So for instance for search and rescue, Mr Khan said there needs to be a clarity in understanding who is going to spearhead the mission depending on where it has taken place.

“These things need to be ironed out because when there is an event or crisis, that is not the time to figure out who is going to spearhead the mission,” he said.

Feedback:  rachnal@fijisun.com.fj

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