3 Sep 2008

Air Pacific says it had no option but to suspend Christmas Island flights

3:35 pm on 3 September 2008

Air Pacific says the decision to stop flying to Christmas Island was made after New Zealand engineers from BECA inspected the runway, and deemed it unsafe.

The airline has suspended flights to Christmas Island until the Kiribati government upgrades the runway that was built during World War 2.

Although it had some resurfacing work done three years ago, Air Pacific

says the crushed coral and concrete runway now has severe cracks in the surface that are starting to spread.

The Air Pacific CEO, John Campbell, says they had no other option due to the risk of damage to the aircraft jeopardising the safety of passengers.

"It's something that we really do regret because we're the only airline serving Christmas Island. It's one of the most isolated spots on earth and the withdraw of this flight will create genuine hardship for the people on Christmas Island, real access problems and difficulties for the import and export of food stuff there."

The Air Pacific CEO John Campbell