By Fabian Hakalits – EM TV, Arawa
The Aropa airport, that completes the list of twenty-two national airport facilities in Papua New Guinea, is now open.
The reopening of the Aropa Airport in Kieta, Central Bougainville is a historical milestone and achievement for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and was greeted with mixed feelings for those who witnessed the occasion.
Three airlines made their maiden flights to Aropa on Friday 12 December, 2014, to signify it’s reopening, exactly 25 years after being shut down due to the Bougainville crisis.
Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill officiated at the event, fulfilling his promise to reopen the Aropa Airport, reassuring the national government’s commitment to Bougainville.
The once international airport of Aropa was commissioned by Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill and the Autonomous Bougainville Government President, Chief Dr John Momis.
Locals say that benefits and opportunities are coming; and are happy for the easy access to air services. They no longer have to spend extra money on having to travel all the way to Buka to catch flights.
Women leader, Theresa Jaintong thanked the Aropa landowners for giving the green light, to reopen the airport.
Sam Kauna, the Bougainville Resource Owners Association Chairman and one of the leaders of the Bougainville Revolution Army (BRA) said the reopening is the start of another chapter in the autonomous region’s history which individuals must charter, for its prosperity.
The Aropa Airport is one of the high impact projects’ funded under the Special Intervention Funds.
The project managed by the Program Management Unit, and the National Airports Corporation as the project management consultants, was completed in less than three months.
This was because of the three different contractors engaged in this project.
Commercial flights will be operated by three airline companies in Air Niugini, Travel Air and Airlines PNG.