The New Zealand and Australian governments yesterday handed over the upgraded Seghe Airfield to the Solomon Islands government.

The almost $55 million project is co-funded by New Zealand, Australia and Solomon Islands, and implemented by Downer and AECOM.

The upgraded airport will boost connectivity for the country's provinces, particularly Western Province. Work on the upgrade had commenced in October last year and was expected to be completed by June 2024.

According to Solomon Airlines, the Seghe Point Airfield was built in late July 1943 by Seabees supported by Marine Raiders. The field was constructed in less than 11 days, and then used as a fighter strip to support the Rendova and Munda Point Landings.

In a joint press statement, the two government's said the project demonstrates their strong commitment to Solomon Islands aviation and economic development.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele, who officially opened the Seghe Airfield, expressed his gratitude to all partners for their hard work and dedication to the project.New Zealand Deputy Minister Winston Peters, is visiting the Solomons said the upgraded airfield will make it "safer and more reliable".

"The upgrade of the Seghe Airfield runway in Western Province will enable flights to operate under all weather conditions, making operations safer and more reliable, and enhancing connectivity for Solomon Islands' provinces," he said.

He said NZ is delighted to have worked with Australia on the project and to hand the airfield back to the people of Solomon Islands, adding it contribute to the country's economic resilience.

"As well as boosting local jobs, the upgrade will support the growth of the tourism industry, expand economic opportunities, and improve access to essential services and more equitable development across the provinces."

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Manele has made it clear economic growth, job creation and infrastructure development were his government's number one priority.

"Australia and New Zealand have listened and are responding, working with the Solomon Islands Government to upgrade Seghe Airfield to bring greater economic benefits, including tourism, to Western Provincem" Wong said.

"This upgrade is part of a broader program of high-quality airfield upgrades supported by Australia and New Zealand to help unlock Solomon Islands' full economic potential," she added.