By ELIZABETH VUVU
THE East New Britain government has approved K700,000 to renovate Vunakanau Airport to serve as an emergency facility.
The provincial assembly recently approved the funding from the K20 million special emergency fund allocated by the National Government for the redevelopment of the airport in the Gazelle district.
Governor and provincial executive council chairman Leo Dion said there was an urgent need for an emergency airport to be used in the event the Tokua Airport was affected with ashfall from the Mt Tavurvur volcano.
The management of Air Niugini had called on the province to find an alternate airport to maintain continuous flight operations into and out of the province.
The Vunakanau old airport was selected as it has an existing 1.2km runway and a 30m width which was suitable for the landing of a Dash 8 aircraft that needed between 800m and a kilometre landing strip.
Mr Dion said for short-term and for emergency use, it could be re-developed quickly to take Dash 8 and Twin Otter aircraft.
He said engineers of the provincial government had done estimates for clearance of the old runway which included a terminal building and other utilities.
The provincial government will be responsible for its maintennance.