Santo tackles suspension of international flights
The decision taken by the Air Vanuatu through the CEO in a letter to the Chairman of Espiritu Santo Tourism Associations (ESTA) to cancel the Brisbane flights coming in and going out in a short notice due to safety concerns is now being discussed for solutions by the business community on Santo.
Members of the Espiritu Santo Associations (ESTA) made their first meeting on Monday 11am at the Hotel Santo to discuss the issue and give solutions on the matter.
The letter addressed the main reasons for the Air Vanuatu suspension of international services to Pekoa Airport as due to safety concerns. The main safety concerns are related to a “PASO Report” in relation to the fire truck, an area at the end of the tarmac, the trees around the airport, the large number of birds around the airport and an insurance issue that was not fully detailed.
Around the discussion table, a request was made for Ronan Harvey, to brief the group with the outcome of his inspection of the airport on Monday being a professional in the field because of his experience as a pilot and international airport operator in the UK.
Harvey advised that the main issue is the “PASO Report”, until they know what is in the report and who prepared it, what qualification the auditors had, such report should take two days to complete by a team of qualified people. “We need a copy of the PASO report so we can have reasonable understanding of the situation”
He added that the report has not been provided to the proper interested parties, even Pekoa Airport operations Manager Anderson Wells has not seen it.
Pekoa Airport Operations Manager Anderson wells stated that, the Tarmac area is a minor issue as the white lining needs to be widened to allow the plane to have better angle to turn, as it is a kind of a sharp curve, but a simple issue that can be rectified easily.
Harvey explained that the issues as stated in the Air Vanuatu letter are not good enough reason, nor of a great risk to shut the operation for the international flight.
In his view they are minor issues and can all be rectified. The normal procedure in any airport operation is that a notice is given to the Airport Manager to assess and rectify the matters within a reasonable time, Harvey said. This did not happen in this case. Harvey said for a pilot, he will choose to land at Pekoa anytime than Port Vila, it is much safer.
Harvey said he did also inspect the fire truck and believe the truck is fine, has been working well and might only need a simple checking of the water pump.
Daily Post was able to get comments from the minister of infrastructure, Harry Iauko and he said, “As minister responsible it’s the problem between the people of Santo.
“The land owners have to work as one to meet the requirements made by the PASO.
“All the safety concerns made have to be solved so that we can convince them to allow the flights in Santo.
“The trees will be a risk to the air planes when taking off at the airport.
“Government has nothing to do with the suspension but to address it.
“The landowners have to come up with something positive in order to allow further flights coming and going out especially to Brisbane.”
While discussions were going on an option made during the debate was if the Air Vanuatu is not capable of doing this then Solomon Airlines will be encouraged to take the routines of Santo Brisbane flights.