16 May 2017

More New Zealand funding for Solomons aviation sector

4:22 pm on 16 May 2017

The New Zealand government has committed a further $US13.8 million in aid funding to upgrade provincial airports in Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands flag

Photo: RNZI

This follows more than $US22 million in New Zealand aid funding that has already been spent on aviation and road infrastructure projects in the Western Province.

At the centre of this earlier funding is the upgrading of the Munda domestic airport to international alternative runway status, which is supposed to be completed later this year.

The previous New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully had been criticised by regional experts and academics for spearheading the move, saying it did not represent a good return on investment.

According to the Solomon Islands government, Mr McCully approved this further commitment of funding before the end of his tenure.

The new initiative, to which Solomon Islands will contribute $US4 million, will see more upgrades to the Seghe and Suavanao airports in the Western and Isabel Provinces in 2018 and the installation of approach lighting at Nusa Tupe airport at the Western Provincial capital Gizo.

The Solomon Islands government says this will improve the safety and reliability of flights, see increased passenger and freight movement and boost tourism to the Western and Isabel provinces.

Preliminary work on the projects is expected to begin within the next three months.

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