By Vasinatta Yama – EMTV News, Mt Hagen
Civil Aviation Minister, Alfred Manase says more rundown rural airstrips will be upgraded and opened for public use and more focus will be on airstrips in rural economic zone areas.
Minister Manase also encouraged local MP’s to subsidize airfreight rates to allow movement for people.
The Aviation Minister says his ministry is focusing on upgrading rural airstrips like Balimo in Western Province, Telefomin in West Sepik Province, and Karamui in Chimbu, where there are growing hubs of economic activities.
He said this will encourage Rural Airstrip Agencies like MAF to continue its flights to rural areas, bringing services to the people.
Manase said focus will also be on other rural airstrips where there is no road link. PNG boasted well over 4000 rural airstrips twenty years ago.
About 400 are still up and running, but are not fully CASA compliant.
Minister Manase said the national government is very supportive of re-building rural airstrips.
Mr. Manase also urged local MP’s to subsidize airfreight to build the confidence of airline operators, and also allow movement of the country’s rural population.
Mr. Manase said more airstrips need to be properly built and maintained just like roads and infrastructure.
The airstrips will be used during emergencies such as disasters to transport relief supplies, and school and medical kits.