Papua New Guinea flag carrier Air Niugini has fulfilled its cultural obligation with landowners from Kieta, Bougainville last weekend when it exchanged two pigs with store and garden foods as a token of appreciation to the landowners for allowing the airline to have one of its aircraft christened –Kieta.
By Aloysius Laukai
The famous REBOINE, AROPA Airport in Central Bougainville officially opened for Business today by Prime Minister, PETER O’NEIL and ABG President, Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS amidst capacity crowd of what was estimated to be more than TEN THOUSAND people from South, Central and North Bougainville.
Photo above Ishmael
The airport was closed at the height of the crisis in 1990 and remained closed although the Peace Monitoring Group and several light aircrafts continued to land especially for Bank runs to Central Bougainville.
The opening was added extra flavour when three Airline Companies also flew in on the re-opening day.
The Once International Airport had the Airline PNG landing first then the Air Niugini’s Q 400 which was officially named KIETA to commemorate this special service into mainland Bougainville.
A plaque displaying this name KIETA was also unveiled by the Prime Minister PETER O’NEIL and ABG President DR. JOHN MOMIS this afternoon.
The Q400 carried the Prime Minister’s Official party whilst the Airline PNG carried Aropa Airport landowners who went to Port Moresby to complete the MOU on the future of the airport with the National Airport Corporation.
The other plane that landed today was the TRAVELAIR or the famous MANGI LO PLES which had the owner, MR. EREMAS WATOTO and several media team on it.
The opening ceremony was incident free although security was tight to make sure the opening went without any disturbance.
Dancers came from all over Bougainville
Speakers at the ceremony included the Minister for Communications, JIMMY MIRINGTORO, ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS and the Prime Minister PETER O’NEIL.
Comments from Peter O’Neil as reported by Brian Semoso
The PMs reply to President Momis struck the right cords with the masses.
“Mi no kam toktok politics. Mi no kam toktok independence, mi no kam toktok lo referendum. Mi kam lo opim airport blo yupla. Mi kam lo givim yupla wanem samting yupla bin laikim long taim yet. Na mi kam tu lo lukim wanem samting gen yupla laikim ba mi wokim. Hausik ba mi wokim, Rot ba mi wokim, schools ba mi wokim. Within the next two years , rot stat lo Kokopau na kamap long Arawa ba mi sealim blo yupla too..ba mi kambek gen planti taim bai yupla les lo lukim pes blo me lo Bougainville…”
Updated Reports 14 December
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and ABG President John Momis officially opened the K10 million Aropa airport just after 1pm today.
The opening was witnessed by a high-powered delegation from Waigani of State Ministers, heads of State-owed Enterprises (SOEs) and Bougainville leaders in Port Moresby.
The ribbon was cut by the two leaders to mark the official unveiling of the Kieta aerodrome plaque.
In what was a historic yet significant event for Bougainvilleans badly affected by the 10-year Bouganiville Crisis which started in 1989, it was an atmosphere of mixed feelings for locals.
Locals were excited with this opportunity and joined the delegation to set foot on the tarmac of the new airport.
Soon after the opening, National Airport Corporation (NAC) officials had to remove excited locals from the tarmac, most just wanting to have a closer look at the three planes from Air Niugini, Mangi Lo Ples and Airlines PNG that took part in the inaugural flight to Aropa.
The Aropa airport for the moment can only take aircrafts the size of Dash 8 and Q400 or smaller.
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AROPA AIRPORT SET TO OPEN ON DECEMBER 12 2014.
Update: With first commercial flights due on December 26
The Phase 1 of the Aropa Airport redevelopment project is nearing its completion as final touches are being put on the terminal , the runway and also general clearing of the airport surroundings.
The Runway has been sealed all the way from the Southern end of the airport to the Northern end. The Contractor (Dekenai) was still doing some rolling this week near end of the runway. Sweeping of the loose aggregates will be completed by this week.
The Runway markings are yet to be done and this will be done after sealing of both taxiway and tarmac area. The runway edges have been cleaned up so well is giving clearly visibility from both sides of the airport.
The old tarmac has been swept and ready to be sealed. Until the sealing is done, markings will wait until completion of sealing and associated works. Drainage works have been completed with former small island within Tarmac being filled by Contractor and will be sealed along with the whole tarmac. It is anticipated that the sealing of both taxiway and tarmac to be completed by end of this week, weather permitting.
The terminal is 95% complete with minor tidying up to do especially VIP lounge within the Arrival Hall. The Departure Lounge is ready for use by Airlines using 3 check in counters. Two Standby Powers Generators are already installed and in place, ready for official opening.
The Terminal Carpark is bieng tidied up and will be completed by end of November. The Public Toilet for Male/Female has been complete and ready for use at end of Terminal Carpark. The Airport Safety Officers( ASO) residence plus the combination of Tractor Shed/workshop is ready for use. A Tractor (New Holland) with slasher attached is already in place.
Last week a team from NAC and a team from CASA PNG were in Aropa as part of the Certification Process. They were in Bougainville to check and ensure basic and minimum safety requirements are being considered during construction, to check and see how far the Project has progressed and or how long more before official date (Tentative Friday 12th December 2014) and also to check on Operational Requirements immediately after the Construction (Personnel, Security etc.)
The Organising Committee( NAC/ABG) for the opening ceremony , have already put plans in place and will further consult frequently to make the day a historic and memorable day for the whole of Bougainville.
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