By PETER ESILA
TROPIC Air will resume weekly flights into Goodenough Island in Milne Bay after 30 years of no service on the sealed airstrip.
Built by the Americans and used during World War II, the airstrip was last used by Talair.
Talair ceased operations in PNG in 1993.
Kiriwina-Goodenough MP Douglas Tomuriesa along with Tropic Air general manager Matthew Brutnall made the inaugural flight into the 2.2km Vivigani airstrip on Wednesday.
“Vivigani could be one of the only airstrip that is sealed in PNG, you go to Kiriwina, it is not sealed, Misima, Woodlark, I have been to other airstrips in PNG, so thank God that your airstrip is sealed,” Tomuriesa told the people.
“Please look after it and make sure that the aircraft and the pilots are safe, in that way, the plane will come and come.
“It has taken us a long time for the plane to arrive in Goodenough but sometimes, waiting patiently will see results, and so I want to say thank you to the landowners of Vivigani airstrip, this is not the first time you cleaned it, you cleaned it the last time when we made some promises and things did not happen and then last year, and then this year twice, you cleaned the airstrip.”
He said local landowners would be engaged to put up fencing around the airstrip.
“The benefit of the airstrips will be immense,” he said.
“We gave Tropic Air K150,000 to establish flights, we are waiting for more DSIPs (district service improvement funds) to come and we will give them another K50,000 to subsidise all the cost.” Goodenough Island has fewer than 30,000 people, with 2,000 to 3,000 people around the Vivigani area.
“The only mode of transport is boat, but due to high level of piracy, it has affected our people, these flight will open a new chapter for development of Goodenough Island,” Tomuriesa said.
Brutnall said the airstrip was well kept.
“We are very honoured to be the first plane to land here in 30 years, we can see about how this airstrip is well kept, thank you people of Vivigani for making this possible, without this sort of work, it is not possible to bring aircraft to this area.
By PETER ESILA