26 Aug 2009

Solomons international airport in need of repair

12:09 pm on 26 August 2009

The Solomon Islands aviation ministry says facilities at the country's only international airport are in urgent need of repair and it hopes the government and donors will recognise its importance to the economy.

The Ministry's Permanent Secretary, Jeffrey Wickham says equipment in the Honiara airport control tower needs replacing, the apron tarmac needs repairing, and the domestic terminal is an eyesore, with collapsed roofing and problems with water for toilets.

Mr Wickham says the ministry is doing what it can with the funds it has but about 18 million US dollars is needed to upgrade airport facilities.

He says he's not sure if people realise the significance of the airport for tourism and the economy.

"The seriousness is something I need to discuss more closely with the government. It's going to be a challenge really, but I hope people will come to realise that neglecting the important infrastructure will have a drastic effect on the economy."

Jeffrey Wickham says the airport is meeting minimum safety standards but if facilities get worse the ministry will be looking at whether planes can continue to land at the airport.