Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson said the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s upgrading of hinterland airstrips and runways, is about 50 percent completed.
He underscored the importance of enhancing domestic operations to connect the coastland to the hinterland. Minister Patterson said more than 12 major hinterland airstrips and runways were inspected prior to the start of upgrading works.
“We’re dealing with safety and the possibility of making them major hubs especially the one at Kato which means that we are upgrading those facilities to make them hubs for aircraft to be stationed there from where persons can fly to smaller airstrips,” Minister Patterson said.
Additional hubs will be established to provide travellers with cheaper flights. “Instead of having all flights originating from Ogle, we want to have these hubs and from these hubs you can shuttle across to other destinations,” Minister Patterson explained.
In the 2016 budget, over $1B was budgeted to upgrade the hinterland airstrips. Eteringbang and Kurupung, Region 7; Paramakatoi, Kato, Kopinang, Monkey Mountain, and Mahdia in Region 8, and Annai, Region 9 are some of the hinterland airstrips slated for rehabilitation.
Meanwhile Minister Patterson informed the Government Information Agency (GINA) that works to improve oversight capabilities in the local aviation sector have begun. This entails the hiring of additional personnel and expansion of several units, including Aviation Security; the Air Transport Management Department; and the Aviation Safety Department.