29 Jan 2016

World Bank comes to Vanuatu's aid on runway

9:32 am on 29 January 2016

It's hoped that Vanuatu's main international airport runway will be rehabilitated within weeks under a World Bank loan package.

Port Vila international airport

Port Vila international airport Photo: RNZ

This follows a decision by Air New Zealand and Qantas to suspend flights to Vanuatu, due to concerns over the safety of the runway at Port Vila's Bauerfield airport.

A 2015 World Bank offer of an almost $US 60 million loan to Vanuatu to upgrade the runway is still active and the country has urgently requested help.

The World Bank's country director for the Pacific, Franz Drees-Gross said the loan covers a full-scale rehab of the runway to be carried out over months, with a quicker component to get the airfield up to scratch in the coming weeks.

"The designs are 95 percent done for the major rehabilitation package. There was also a provisional sum set aside but never used by the government in the last eight or nine months to deal with some of the immediate repairs."

Franz Drees-Gross said the World Bank has been invited to send a full technical team to Vanuatu to kickstart the rehabilitation as quickly as possible.

On Thursday night, Virgin Australia announced it was suspending flights between Brisbane and Vanuatu over fears the runway is not up to scratch.