By VICKY BAUNKE
MOROBE-based third-level airline North Coast Aviation has cancelled all flights into Kerema in Gulf and is strongly recommending the immediate closure of the airstrip until permanent work is done to improve the deteriorating runway.
Flight operations manager and chief pilot Thomas Keindip said that the Kerema airstrip runway had to be closed forthwith and fixed to ensure the safety of travellers.
“The Kerema runway has never seen any major work or infrastructure developments in the last 10 years with the prevalent potholes growing in all areas, it is self-terminating of an operational runway.
“We service the hinterlands of Gulf province and fly into Komako, Kanabea, Kaintiba, and Kamina and move passengers and freight mostly in and out of Kerema.
“The disruption of services will put a strain on the travelling public coming to the end of the academic year and the beginning of the holiday season.”
Some of the hazards that warrant the closure of the airstrip include potholes on the runway, containers within dedicated parking areas, faded runway markings, people constantly being on the runway during landing and taking off, no fencing and broken glass and other debris in areas.
Keindip is calling on the Gulf government, the Kerema district administration and the National Airports Corporation (NAC) to step in and look into the deteriorating state of not only the runway but also the terminal building and the aircraft parking area to cater for the general travelling public’s safety.
He also urges the NAC inspectors to make updated reports on the runway.
By VICKY BAUNKE