The FINANCIAL -- The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on March 9 approved additional funding for aviation projects currently underway in Tonga and Kiribati under the overarching Pacific Aviation Investment Program. The Program is delivering essential upgrades to runways, terminal infrastructure and air traffic control management systems, along with sector reform in the Pacific.
“Additional funding for these vital aviation projects in Tonga and Kiribati will enable both countries to finance critical investments with long-lasting impacts across the aviation sector,” said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands. “Aviation plays a crucial role in the day-to-day running of Pacific Island countries – transporting people, goods and services, while also assisting rapid response in the face of increasingly severe natural disasters.”
The Tonga Aviation Investment Project will receive a total of US$7.56 million in additional grant and credit support to fund further investment in airport operations and security compliance to meet International Civil Aviation Organization standards. Airline safety standards will also be reviewed to ensure that Tonga’s access to international markets and tourism can be maintained. The two-year extension of the project will include activities to preserve and extend the service life of existing runways, terminal facilities and other equipment, reduce energy consumption, cut ongoing maintenance and operational costs, and improve environmental efficiency, according to the World Bank.
“Improved airport facilities and operations will enhance the future sustainability and competitiveness of Tonga’s aviation sector,” said Hon. Dr. ‘Aisake Eke, Tonga Minister for Finance and National Planning. “The Tonga Aviation Investment Project has delivered solid results for the sector over the past four years and we look forward to this work continuing.”
The Kiribati Aviation Investment Project will receive a total of US$12.45 million in additional grants under a two-year extension to improve the operational efficiency and financial sustainability of Kiribati’s two international airports. Activities will include the upgrade of the Bonriki terminal in South Tarawa; a larger terminal and more sophisticated screening facilities at Cassidy International Airport on Christmas Island; completing seawall works on the Tarawa runway to protect from coastal erosion; substantial investment in navigation aids, four fire tenders and other key safety equipment to withstand the harsh marine environment and; and a two-year airport management contract for Bonriki and Cassidy airports.
Two grants of US$0.63 million and US$7.1 million will be provided to Tonga and Kiribati respectively from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries. An additional IDA credit of US$6.62 million will be provided to Tonga. A further two grants of US$0.31 million and US$5.35 million from the Pacific Regional Infrastructure Facility – funded by the governments of Australia and New Zealand – will be provided to Tonga and Kiribati respectively for safety and security oversight and advisory support services.