Talks on airport extension continues

CIVIL Aviation Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says negotiations on the extension of the Nausori International Airport runway will include the rectification of the current lease agreement.

While speaking in Parliament on the progress of the extension yesterday, he said negotiations with landowners were continuing.

“It began a few years back and from the village of Naselai and three of the landowning units from Natogadravu. Some of the leases will be leased through the TLTB and the others through the Ministry of Lands,” he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government had informed Airports Fiji Ltd that as part of the overall acquisition of the land, they needed to correct the ills of the past.

“The current Nausori airport site was acquired during the colonial government days in January 1951. The lease issued was for 99 years at 66 pounds per annum with no right of reassessment. And no government has actually corrected that,” he said. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the extension would allow Boeing 737 aircraft from Nausori International Airport to carry to capacity.

“The current runway length is about 1168m and 50m wide. The ideal length of a 737 operating in full capacity is 2100m, so this is why all those years it has been flying, it doesn’t take on a full load,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

He claimed there were instances where lawyers who acted as advisers for the landowners demanded large sums of money which could not be paid by the other parties.

“We’d rather have more money paid over the years rather than have a lump sum now and then small amounts over the next 99 years.”