Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Look North to Vanua Levu and airports

from Peceli

Look North to Vanua Levu

The term ‘Look North’ can mean look to Asia for markets, but also it can mean look to Vanua Levu, the northern part of Fiji. It means to boost the infrastructure of air land and sea for the people of the 'Friendly North.’

The parliamentarian Robin Irwin, who represents Savusavu and the North may have said some untimely and tactless comments at a recent Tourism Convention, but the point he made is true, that Vanua Levu has been neglected by the Fiji government.

Two items were in the Fiji news yesterday - one about Savusavu airport needing extensions and the other about Labasa, my home-town and putting lights at the airport so that there can be flights after 5 p.m.

Another thing is that Labasa airport needs to be extended. At present it is 1 and a quarter miles long and needs to be extended to 1 and half miles to take heavy air traffic. My wish is – wouldn’t it be good if I could fly from Avalon airport near Geelong directly to Labasa!

From FijiTV news Runway lights planned for Labasa Airport
13 Sep 2006 17:59:04

For the first time in many years, the people of Labasa will soon be able to enjoy night flights in and out of the Northern division. This follows Airports Fiji Limited's decision to install night runway lights at Labasa Airport.

AFL says they are more than happy to carry out a ministerial directive to address the concerns of the travelling public to the North. The last flight into Labasa's Waiqele Airport just before sunset.

For many years, quarter past five everyday has been the cut off time if you wanted to get in or out of Labasa.

That will soon change. AFL is now in the process of installing night runway lights which means extended flights time in and out of Labasa. This AFL says will be part of their committment to governments Look North Policy.

But it’s not likely to be cheap.

Airports Fiji Limited CEO Ratu Sakiusa Tuisolia says the AFL Board will at the end of this month consider the financial, commercial and technical feasability of installing runway and approaching lights here.
Night flights into here are also envisaged to boost tourism up north.

For the local area MP who himself served for 15 years as a domestic airline employee at Labasa Airport, its a relief.

Tuisolia says as a commerical venture, AFL expects to pass on the costs of this capital investment to our domestic air carriers who will soon be operating extended flights to Labasa. Tuisolia says they have given themselves a three to four month lead time to get this new project it off the ground.

from Wendy

Promises, promises! Look at a Fiji government article from February 2005 with all the grand plans for Vanua Levu.

To read a story about a flight from Nausori to Labasa go to babasiga archive posting.


Pandabonium said...

That's interesting. Nice to have lights - even in the daytime if there is rain. They will probably install a radio control for them so that pilots can turn them on and adjust the intensity by clicking their mike.

I think Labasa's runway is shorter than that though - I show 3511 feet in my database. (I'm just being technical). A bit longer would allow Air Pacific to bring in their new ATR-42s (that they recently bought) at max weight. They are going to use those for regional flights, but maybe they are looking to bigger planes for domestic flights as well someday.

Anyway, nice to see the airports and "the North" getting some much needed attention.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

You are the expert! I am just saying what they told me in Labasa! Thanks.
Have you seen Savusavu airport? In between hills.

Pandabonium said...

I've been in and out of Savusavu on most flights I've taken from Nadi to Matei as a 10 minute stop. K and I also visited there a few years ago to look at some land and meet with a builder. Ocean at one end, toward town. Makes it interesting from a pilot's perspective.

I've not been to Labasa yet.

Anonymous said...

The 'look North' policy sounds promising. Lest I forget....I was 3 years old when my Grandfather rowed us from our village in the district of Namuka to Labasa. We were bound for our first family plane trip from Waiqele to (Luvuluvu) Suva, where my parents were to take up new work assignments. I was told,that the journey by boat was long and tiring for both my Dad and his father as they took turns rowing. They rowed all night, and our only light was the moon-light.

Any developments to the Waiqele airport & it's surrounds, I would be grateful for!

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

To Anonymous,
Vina'a va'alevu. Thanks for your precious story about rowing all the way to Labasa and your first flight to Luvuluvu. I've been to Namuka. When I was a young boy I also went to Vunikodi in Udu and know that boats in those days didn't usually have engines. We had to row to use a little sail for the wind.
Can you write us some more stories?