13 Feb 2016

Vanuatu runway repairs hoped to be done by April

1:01 pm on 13 February 2016

Vanuatu's new government has announced a contractor for the emergency upgrade of the country's main international airport, with work expected to begin within weeks.

Port Vila international airport

Port Vila international airport Photo: RNZ

Air New Zealand, Qantas, and Virgin Australia last month stopped flying to Port Vila's Bauerfield Airport citing concerns about the runway's safety.

The new prime minister, Charlot Salwai, says repairing the runway is one of his top priorities, and the public utilities ministry yesterday awarded the contract to New Zealand company Fulton Hogan.

The government is seeking a World Bank loan to carry out the work, which is estimated to cost about US$1.2 million.

The ministry says it hopes to have the runway repaired by early April, when the country's peak tourist season begins.