New Zealand is aiming to complete its long-standing projects in Solomon Islands this year which includes the upgrade of provincial airports.
This announcement was made by the New Zealand High Commissioner, H.E Georgina Roberts on the occasion to mark Waitangi Day in Honiara recently.
Most of the airstrips in Solomon Islands have unsealed runways, taxiways and aircraft parking areas and suffer from reduced operational reliability and availability during wet weather.
During wet weather, passenger services are also disrupted leaving passengers stranded at times in provincial locations. For a few of the provincial airstrips, there is no terminal building for basic shelter and processing of flight documents.
The upgrade work by New Zealand has included pavement reconstruction and surfacing works, construction of terminal buildings and airfield ground lighting at selected airports in the country.
New Zealand, as part of its Development Cooperation, will continue to support the Solomon Islands Ministry of Communications and Aviation to improve airport infrastructure and airport management.
In 2019 the former New Zealand Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, announced that New Zealand will support the launch of the Solomon Islands Airport Corporation Limited (SIACL) in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government.
“Safe, cost-effective and well-maintained airport infrastructure is critical to connecting Solomon Islands to domestic and international markets and tourism opportunities,” Mr Peters said.
This is in line with a 2018 cabinet paper which endorsed a reform programme for the civil aviation, effectively paving the way for the establishment of SIACL.
As part of the reform exercise the government was to review the Civil Aviation Act 2008 and establish appropriate legislation that will give the new airport company the legal mandate to carry out its functions.
The SIACL will take ownership of all international and domestic airports in the Solomon Islands and will be responsible for operating and managing all those airports. To date, the Solomon Islands government has not been able to carry out these reforms.
In addition to the airport upgrades, New Zealand High Commissioner, Ms. Roberts says New Zealand and Solomon Islands will continue to actively work together on a broad range of issues.
“Like education, aviation, economic reform, renewable energy, livelihoods, fisheries, tourism, environmental protection, climate change and infrastructure”, Roberts says.
"This is in addition to supporting the Solomon Islands government's efforts in COVID-19."
The New Zealand High Commissioner says New Zealand will continue to carry on working to enhance the partnership between Solomon Islands and New Zealand.
“Appreciating what each of us brings to that relationship, acknowledging the different views we may sometimes hold, and accepting and respecting our respective mana in that enduring partnership”, Ms. Roberts says.