PACIFIC Sun will halt all of its Labasa-bound flights for another week to give more time for additional work on the runway to ensure the safety of its operations.
Following another round of safety inspections at the airport last week, safety requirements dictated that additional work must be done to prevent loose gravel and chips of the repaired runway damaging the ATR-42 and DH-6 Otter aircraft and engines during take-off and landing.
"We have made this difficult but necessary decision to cancel services to Labasa from Nadi and Suva in the interest of safety for our customers, crew, and our aircraft," Pacific Sun general manager Shaenaz Voss said in a statement.
"We have already repaired and replaced three ATR-42 engines this year due to damage caused by the condition of the old runway and we can't resume operations until the repaired runway meets all safety standards," Ms Voss said.
"Safety is an uncompromising priority for us and until the runway meets our strict safety standards, we will not be able to operate our ATR or Twin Otter aircraft to Labasa," she said.
Ms Voss said a decision on the resumption of ATR-42 and DH-6 Otter services to Labasa would be made after another assessment by Air Pacific and Pacific Sun safety teams.
"Customers holding tickets for Labasa services are advised to contact our call centre on 3304388 for further advice, including options on alternative flights to Savusavu," she said.
Marcus Hill who was supposed to fly to Labasa said: "This is frankly typical of Pacific Sun on how it treats its customers.
"I am supposed to be photographing a tourist wedding in Labasa and I had booked my flight two months ago.
"I did not know about this until two days before my flight."
AFL general manager Lawrence Liew yesterday said upgrade work at the airport had been completed.
He said the curing process took time and they would continue to monitor the runway with roller machines compressing and drying the coal tar on the runway.
However, Mr Liew suggested that Pacific Sun used its Twin Otter aircraft as the ATR-42 carried a heavy load.
"We will continue with our curing process to ensure that the new runway is safe for use," he said.