12 Apr 2016

Kiribati hopes to avoid further airport problems

9:10 am on 12 April 2016

The Kiribati Government says it will stay vigilant over its airports, after Fiji Airways cancelled flights for two weeks due to "safety concerns."

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Bonriki Airport, Tarawa, Kiribati. Photo: RNZI

However, it said Fiji Airways could have helped deliver vital firefighting gear that would have allayed its concerns.

The airline resumed flights to Tarawa at the weekend after it was assured that the airport had addressed serious safety issues that stopped it flying there two weeks earlier

The problems ranged from airstrip lighting and border fencing to adequate fire safety equipment.

But the airline's move stranded Kiribati travelers in Nadi for almost two weeks, and the Kiribati president, Taneti Maamau, said the airline should have the passengers' plight more into consideration.

A spokesperson for the Kiribati Government, Rimon Rimon, said the airline also could have put more effort into delivering a fire-fighting apparatus.

"They have solved the problem of the fire truck to be capable of producing foam but a major spare part was actually stranded in Nadi and had this been on one of the earlier flights then maybe it would have solved that problem," said Mr Rimon, who also said strong communication lines had been put in place with Fiji Airways to avoid further issues.

The World Bank is in the process of reviewing and funding a project to bring the Bonriki Airport at Tarawa and the Cassidy Airport on Kiritimati Island up to international standards.

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