The Prime Minister’s Office has announced that Gwaunaru’u Airport on Malaita will reopen soon.
This follows successful negotiation last week with the landowning groups of the airport site- Fulisisila/Birankwao and Toloabu/Rofa tribes and representatives of the communities living around the airport facility.
The airport was closed in 2013 after the communities living around the airport accused the Civil Aviation authority for breaching parts of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with them in 2012 for the cleaning of the airport.
National Consultant for Communication and Aviation in the Prime Minister’s Office, Aloysius Poiohia said the meeting last week which was also attended by a Malaita Provincial Government delegation headed by Premier Peter Ramohia himself and representative of the Civil Aviation Authority of Solomon Islands (CAASI), Brian Halisanau concluded with a three-point resolution.
The resolution entails that:
1. The airport be opened and serviced with immediate effect;
2. All parties to the meeting work within the framework of the 2012 Solomon Islands Government Memorandum of Understanding with the landowning groups; and
3. A review of the 2012 MOU be conducted with immediate effect.
Mr Poiohia said in keeping with the spirit of the resolution, the landowning groups including the airport communities agreed to allow the High Court to deal with their land issues whilst they work together in the interim to ensure the airport is reopened.
He said CAASI has already conducted a site inspection of the airport and identified some issues that must be addressed by the Ministry of Aviation and Communication before the airport can be reopened.
“These issues pertain to safety and security requirements that must be complied with if flights are to resume at Gwaunaru’u airport. The Ministry of Aviation and Communication is now addressing these issues and upon their completion, a final inspection will be carried out by Civil Aviation Authority of Solomon Islands for verification and certification that the airport has met all safety and security requirements before flights can resume.”
“Solomon Airlines has advised that once it receives a letter from CAASI guaranteeing that Gwaunaru’u airport is ready to be reopened, it would require a month to re-establish its office in Auki and market the Auki route before flight services to and from Gwaunaru’u can actually resume,” Mr Poiohia said.
He said the reopening of the Gwaunaru’u Airport will make travelling to and from Auki more convenient for business trippers.
Meanwhile, the National Consultant for Aviation and Communication thanked all parties to the meeting last week for the positive outcome and assured them of the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s commitment to fulfil the government’s obligations in the three-point resolution.