Solomon Airlines looks at future Bougainville flights
Solomon Airlines looks at future flight to Bougainville as Aropa Airport reopens after 24 years.
Solomon Airlines will be among the guests at this morning's re-opening of Aropa airport in Papua New Guinea's autonomous province Bougainville which has been shut for 24 years.
The airport, near Arawa in central Bougainville, was forced to close by the civil war and air services were re-established in Buka.
The operations manager for Solomon Airlines, Gus Kraus, says his airline used to have an office in Aropa and is looking to do so again.
He spoke with Koroi Hawkins about the history behind the runway.
GUS KRAUS: In 1989 we opened an office in Arawa to actually try and capture some of the market traffic from Bougainville to Solomon Islands and of course not. not less than twelve months later we had to close it because of the tension that was created there through the problems of the mining. So you know for us strategically there's a lot of our families this side of the border and of course Choiseul is a big pivot point for Solomon Airlines and it's growing so for us we are looking at the airport in terms of the future prospects of launching Dash 8 services to and from Honiara maybe via Munda if we get a decent terminal built there, of course the major issues are always about customs, immigration and quarantine, manpower and facilities and also about security so we are just, I suppose it's very timely for us to be part of this delegation to have a look at the processes and the developments that are taking place for this new airport development. So we are very interested to see what's going on and of course it also gives us the foundation to talk to Air New Guinea about, you know, potentially in future, trying to do something together as far as cross water flights are concerned.
KOROI HAWKINS: And just going back to the landing strip on Bougainville has that been upgraded?
GK: Well I think Aropa, everybody knows that when the tension happened, everybody knows that ceased to be an operating airstrip so it's been re-done totally by the PNG government obviously with the, I think liaison and the friendship of the Bougainville people and the Bougainville government so you know, I think it's a positive element for Bougainville. Personally I think we all love Bougainville and to me the relationship of Bougainville to Solomon Islands the links are there historically. So it's certainly a positive element from our part of things and I am sure for the PNG government as well. So it's been a long time in coming it's been closed for many, many years and we look forward to the prospects in the future of trying to service the people there as well.
KH: And finally just details, how big is it, what can land on it?
GK: Well at the moment I believe that they are taking a Dash - 8 Q400 the bigger aeroplane with 70 seats from Air New Guinea. It used to operate with the Fokker F28s in years gone by Air New Guinea. I am sure that they are looking towards the eventuality to operate back with either Fokker 100 or Fokker 70s so for me it's a matter for Air New Guinea and the runway capabilities so, I am sure that they are looking at prospects for the future for that.
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