By BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) is expected to officially sign agreements with the PNG Government to sanction the K1.8 billion loan to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Jan 27 for the rehabilitation of regional airports.
The funding is aimed at upgrading and modernising major airports in PNG.
The bulk of the concessional loan would be consumed by regional airports rehabilitation in Mt Hagen (Western Highlands), Tokua (East New Britain) and Nadzab (Morobe).
ADB will fund 85% while the Government will put in 15% as counterpart funding.
Project director Manuai Kametan told The National that once the loan was sanctioned, the CAA, through the National Airports Corporation, would proceed with engaging consultants to deliver the project.
The project costs US$640 million. The ADB will provide US$480 million and US$85 million will come from the PNG Government.
The remaining balance of US$75 million is to be sourced through public-private partnerships.
Last week, reappointed Civil Aviation, Works and Transport Minister Don Polye said Jackson International Airport would undergo a massive K500 million upgrade.
This woul partly come from the US$75 million, which is only about half of what is required.
Mr Kematan said once the loan was sanctioned, terms of reference and expressions of interest for the project would also be sorted.
The project will be managed by the newly-created State-owned entity, the National Airports Corporation (NAC) Ltd, and will start this year.
It is expected to be completed around 2020.
The airports and air navigation services of the CAA has now been incorporated into the NAC.
Airports will come under PNG Airports Ltd, while navigation services will fall under PNG Air Services Ltd.
Mr Kematan said this massive rehabilitation project would provide the foundation for NAC to achieve its project vision 2015.
The main aim of the project is to address congestion and enhance aviation services to operate efficiently, be sustainable and encourage growth and setting a foundation for NAC to become a self-reliant entity.
NAC general manager corporate affairs and planning Joseph Tupiri added that PNG was poised for greater economic changes and with that in mind aviation must be prepared to support the changes.
Last week, the Post Courier reported that the Jackson International Airport extension would take place immediately, however, Mr Tupiri said the current projects were phase-approached to achieving the bigger visions.
The extension of the Jackson International Airport should be achieved by 2030, he said.
Under that project, the runway will be extended to 3,500m from its current 2,750m.
Once the extension project is completed the airport can cater for larger aircraft like the Boeing dream liner 787.