Air Niugini plane overshoots runway into Chuuk lagoon – all 47 safe

By RNZ Pacific

An Air Niugini plane which landed in a Micronesian lagoon apparently overshot the runway on landing.

The Boeing 737-800 was scheduled to stop in Chuuk on its way from Pohnpei to Port Moresby.

All 47 people on board are reported to be safe by the national police.

LATEST UPDATES AT RNZ PACIFIC

The plane was reportedly carrying 36 passengers and 11 crew.

RNZ Pacific’s correspondent Giff Johnson said small boats quickly went out to help rescue passengers from the plane before it sank in the waters off the runway in the Chuuk capital, Weno.

-Partners-

“It clearly wasn’t a crash, in the sense of a plane going down and coming apart. The plane seemed to be intact and that fits in with landing on the runway and then shooting off which we’ve had some experience with, with other airlines.”

All through Micronesia generally runways are short, according to Giff Johnson, who’s based in the Marshall Islands capital, Majuro.

“On a normal landing you end up 30 metres from the end of the runway and the end of the runway means water,” he said.

Pacnews editor Makareta Komai’s tweet on the crash landing.

An Asia Pacific Airlines Boeing 727 cargo plane overran the runway in Pohnpei 10 years ago.

According to reports it came to a rest with its nosewheel in the water of the lagoon at the end of the 1800 metre runway in May 2008.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Vanuatu tourism sector calls for quick resolution over airport contract

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Vanuatu tourism sector calls for quick resolution over airport contract

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Vanuatu aviation officials are trying their best to keep to an April timeline for breaking ground on runway repairs. Image: Dan McGarry/Vanuatu Daily Post

By Dan McGarry in Port Vila

On the day of the arrival in Vanuatu of World Bank Vice President Victoria Kwakwa, tourism industry stakeholders are reportedly calling for a quick resolution to an apparent impasse over the selection of a contractor to perform the upgrades to the Bauerfield airport runway.

In late December, a World Bank procurement expert told bidders that she hoped to be able to announce the winning bid within a month of the tenders being unsealed. Nearly two months have passed, however, and no announcement has been made.

The Vanuatu Daily Post has received reliable reports that the crux of the delay is an impasse over the preferred contractor. Sources have confirmed that there are differing opinions about which one should win, and that price is a concern for at least one of the parties.

READ MORE: Vanuatu airport runway repairs usher in new tourism era

Most parties will not speak on the record because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations, but aviation stakeholders stated last week that they were ready to ask for high level government intervention in order to break the impasse.

Over the weekend, government representatives confirmed that they were willing to intervene in the process.

– Advertisement –

One political operative, who chose to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the affair, confirmed that a letter had been sent to a minister by tourism industry representatives, expressing concern at the economic cost of further delays.

It is widely known that several tourism operations are approaching the end of the line in terms of their ability to continue doing business at these depressed levels, and that any curbs on inflows over the upcoming peak season could spell disaster for them.

Expedited upgrade
The expedited runway upgrade bidding process had been designed with an eye to breaking ground in April, in order to ensure that any interruptions in service would not affect peak season tourist traffic.

Being able to announce completion of the runway upgrades by July might also have the effect of enticing Air New Zealand to return to scheduled service.

While arrival numbers from New Zealand are not huge, a vote of confidence from one of the most highly regarded airlines in the world would go a long way to reassuring travelers about the safety of the runway.

A completed runway upgrade might also convince Qantas to restore their code share with Air Vanuatu on their Sydney and Brisbane to Port Vila service.

Sources have confided that part of the problem stems from a lack of trust in the judgment of some parties. Vanuatu deferred to the World Bank’s choice of project manager during the emergency repair process, and later expressed regret when additional repairs were proven necessary.

Flight turned back
A Virgin Australia flight was turned back last year when additional damage was discovered on the runway, on a section that the project manager had deemed safe.

Nobody’s safety was affected because Airports Vanuatu Ltd was conducting visual inspections of the runway before every jet aircraft arrival and departure.

But the effect on the confidence of international tourism operators was palpably negative.

Parties to the negotiation have quietly accepted that the government’s position is understandable, and said that they view the Vice-President’s visit as an opportunity to “cut the knot” and move ahead with repairs to the runway.

Kwakwa is visiting the country to sign an agreement establishing a country office in Vanuatu.

She was joining at a signing ceremony yesterday by Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jotham Napat, and Finance Minister Gaetan Pikioune.

Dan McGarry is media director of the Vanuatu Daily Post group.