11 Aug 2016

Vanuatu still has hopes for 787 flights

1:52 pm on 11 August 2016

The head of Airports Vanuatu says accommodating large Boeing 787 'Dreamliners' at Port Vila is a realistic goal despite ongoing issues with the runway at Bauerfield.

Vanuatu's main international airport Bauerfield at Port Vila

Vanuatu's main international airport Bauerfield at Port Vila Photo: RNZI/Beverley Tse

In January Air New Zealand withdrew its services to Port Vila and Qantas stopped its codeshare arrangement citing concerns over the safety of the runway.

There have been ongoing repairs and this month minor work was carried out again after staff spotted a gap in part of the runway, triggering Virgin Australia to halt their services before restarting again this week.

But the chairman of Airports Vanuatu, Bakoa Kaltongga, said Vanuatu still wants to boost tourism numbers by having the capacity to bring 787s into the country.

He remains optimistic despite the airport's recent issues.

"Performance-based navigational technology will allow these aircraft to operate at an airport like Bauerfield which has geographical limitations," he said.

"Four years ago we wouldn't have thought about this but now with the change in technology and the advancement in navigational aids we are, with work done on the runway, able to bring longhaul aircraft."

Airport experts are reported to have told the government the 2600-metre length runway is adequate for the larger jets but the surface needs an additional 40mm of asphalt.