A crucial piece of infrastructure to ensure the safe operations of flights into and out of Hanan international airport is not operational. The airport tower which began renovations in October last year has yet to be given the go-ahead by the building inspectors.
The Director of Transport Sonya Talagi told BCN news that “Technically it is completed but we are still waiting for some little bits that needs to be tidied up and signed off by the building division”
When we started the airport tower project, the capacity to safely operate flights was transferred down to Rescue Fire (division) so we have never had any safety issues with the operations of the Air New Zealand flights and they can continue from Rescue Fire”
This is confirmed by Colin Harding the Head of Civil Aviation saying that “all flight service equipment that was in the tower has been relocated to a room within the Rescue Fire Services and to date we have yet to encounter any setbacks ..except for the fact that we cannot sight the aircraft of approach and departure”.
Colin Harding told BCN news that they would prefer being in the tower but because the tower is still not ready the flight service operators have had to conduct and maintain extra precautions for the continued safety of flight operations to the island.
According to Sonya Talagi the intention of the tower upgrade project was to remove the equipment from the tower and reinstall but they realised that most of the equipment in the tower had eroded so they are now waiting to install new equipment.
Given the impacts of COVID 19 it looks like it will be some time before the airport tower will be operational. Harding said “We have yet to access the availability of tech assistance from Airways for the installation of equipment and the subsequent training that will follow after the installation and commissioning”.
The cost of the airport tower project was $250,000 and the contractor is Doug the Builder a New Zealand building company which is also the contractor for the building of the new parliament building underway and the completed Taoga Niue building which was officially opened in October 2018.
BCN understands that the project was initially expected to be completed in March however the building inspectors have not yet signed off on the project.