People living in rural areas around Morobe Province are maintaining their own airstrips. An aircraft specialist, Simon Elap, says planes coming in for maintenance show the expensive effects of poorly-maintained airstrips.
Rural airstrips are a vital link for places that don’t have roads and now serve as the only option following the liquidation of Lutheran Shipping.
Goods and services delivery will be affected in rural stations. Kiunga Aviation Warehouse, now owned by North Coast Aviation at Nadzab Airport, is where the maintenance of level-three airplanes happens.
A new plane is being prepared by technicians to serve Telefomin, a rural area without road links. But like many other planes that fly to remote areas, it will land on airstrips that are maintained by locals.
Chief Engineer Simon Elap says aircrafts coming into maintenance show the full brunt of the effects of poor airstrip conditions.
“The government doesn’t fix airstrips, it’s the people… In all the airstrips I’ve landed on, there are no government agencies” he says.
In the next several months or even years, most rural areas in the Morobe Province will heavily depend on third-level airlines for transportation of goods into the area, after Lutheran Shipping halted its’ operations.
“The man made problems for Finschhafen, Wasu and Kabwum after Lutheran shipping stopped working,” said North Coast Aviation chief pilot, Thomas Keindip.
Meanwhile, the Morobe Provincial government is providing subsidies for airfares but the operation and maintenance of airstrips is yet to be addressed.
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