News Page

News Archives

Website Contents

Archived News: October 2018

From Fiji Sun Online (31 October 2018)

Editorial: Rotumans Have A Good Reason To Celebrate

By Maika Bolatiki

For 40 years a plan for an extended Rotuma airport runway lay waiting to be implemented by a Government.

No doubt a cost-benefit analysis was carried out and it must have been felt that the cost far outweighs the benefits. That decision was based on a strictly commercial sense. It took precedence over the interests of the people.

This Government has mixed the two opposing views and through Fiji Airports and Fiji Link come out with a solution that makes people on both sides of the divide happy.

To be able to do it you need vision and political courage. That's what Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his FijiFirst Government has provided.

Mr Bainimarama was spot on when he said the opening of the runway extension had paved a new future of connectivity for every Rotuman man, woman and child.

It's been dubbed a game changer for Rotumans.

Previously Rotumans had to make do with Twin Otter aircraft going into the island with a restriction of about seven passengers per flight.

If anyone has had family going to Rotuma the waiting time to get on board and come out from Rotuma is very restrictive. Some people wait for two months.

Monday's inaugural Fiji Link ATR flight from Nadi to Rotuma has been made possible by the runway extension.

Before, travelling to Rotuma by air was usually a headache. The old runway, built in the 1980s, was a bane for aviators and travellers.

The weather dictated what happened. When it rained it made the runway unusable, delaying flights. The type of aircraft was also restricted.

The $12.8million upgrade by Fiji Airports has changed that.

Past Governments neglected developing the airport because they saw no business case for an expanded runway in Rotuma.

Mr Bainimarama correctly said – "The difficulty of the project, and the isolation of Rotuma from the mainland, made this a task too grand and too ambitious for them to undertake. As usual there were doubters like the political opposition who were saying upgrades such as new, award-winning Nadi International Airport, the soon-to-be-upgraded airport in Nausori, said these tasks were simply impossible."

But they have been proven wrong again. The runaway upgrade makes Rotuma feel more connected to the rest of Fiji than at any point in our nation's history.

It is expected to open up opportunities for new economic activities that Rotumans can benefit from.

Once Rotuma felt isolated and missed out on the economic prosperity that we are experiencing all throughout Fiji.

Today Rotumans are absolutely delighted because they see the potential for economic growth and prosperity.

So much so that they have pledged their support for Mr Bainimarama in this election.

From Fiji Sun Online (30 October 2018)

$12.8 Million Runway For Rotuma Opened

By Charles Chambers

The new Fiji Link ATR turboprop service to Rotuma, which is expected to begin this week, will open doors that will forever change the face of this beautiful island.

It will forever enrich the lives of the many Fijian families who call it their home.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made the comments after opening the new $12.8 million 1,400 metres chip-sealed pavement runway for Fiji Airports at Malhaha in Rotuma yesterday.

The occasion also marked the historic inaugural Fiji Link ATR 72-600 flight that is expected to carry between 60-70 passengers each trip as opposed to seven on the smaller aircraft previously.

Mr Bainimarama, said anyone who used the Rotuma Airport before today knew too well the many headaches that it once caused.

"The previous runway, put in place back in the 1980s, was just a grass strip, much of which was unusable due to terrible drainage.

"Its operation was extremely limited, both in what type of aircraft it could facilitate and in the weather conditions in which take-offs and landings were possible

"Flights were delayed and cancelled after just a drizzling of rain frustrated the few travellers who were able to book tickets on the small, seven-seater Twin Otter aircraft.

"Far too many times, after excitedly planning their journeys, packing their bags and coming to the airport, Rotumans were sent home disappointed."


He said there were weeks that went by without a single departure but once the weather cleared, the flight time was over two-and-a-half hours long.

"For decades, past governments saw the need for an upgrade, but neglected developing the airport.

"They saw no business case for an expanded runway in Rotuma, and despite being planned out and designed many times over the past 40 years, it was shelved every time.

"The difficulty of the project, and the isolation of Rotuma from the mainland, made this a task too grand and too ambitious for them to undertake.

"Just like with the new, award-winning Nadi International Airport, or the soon-to-be-upgraded airport in Nausori, the political opposition proved to be nothing more than doubters and detractors, dragging their feet and claiming that these tasks were simply impossible."

Mr Bainimarama said this new runway had proven them wrong.

"That mentality –– that timid lack of visionary leadership ––has finally been shed with my Government.

"Time and again, we have proven that we never balk at boldness, and this project was no different.

"For me, this was much more than a simple case of whether or not the airport would be profitable from ticket sales alone –– that's a narrow-minded vision that doesn't fully take you, the Rotumans who will benefit, into consideration.

"My fellow Fijians, to my Government, this was about so much more than just paving a new runway –– it was about paving a new future of connectivity for every Rotuman man, woman and child.

"It was about giving the thousands of Rotumans who have gone on to live elsewhere in Fiji and the world a chance to visit their families, and see their home, with unprecedented ease.

"It was about making Rotuma feel more connected to the rest of Fiji than at any point in our nation's history. It was about bringing a new tide of economic activity that will allow you to take part in the ongoing economic prosperity that we are experiencing all throughout Fiji."

The runway is now both wider and longer.

The upgrades include the site's drainage, upgrading of the apron to accommodate two ATRs, new security fencing and enhanced the runway end safety area.

A new fire station was also being built, with a new fire truck for the airport, and obstacles around the airfield have been cleared to allow for safe aircraft operation.

"This is far more than just a facelift –– it is a comprehensive overhaul that amounts to a far safer and more efficient airport."

Domino effect

He said the airport project, completed in just over a year by Fiji Airports, would have a domino effect that would revolutionise the entire travel experience to Rotuma and then spread to boost the island's economy as a result.

"With the ability to cater to larger, more powerful planes, the time in the air will now be drastically reduced."

The Fiji Link flight from Nadi to Rotuma now takes 90 minutes in comparison to the Twin Otter's two and a half hours.

"The capacity of the new FijiLink ATRs is a six-fold increase of the previous puddle-jumpers –– over 40 passengers will be able to take advantage of each of these new flights, making booking tickets both easier and more affordable for Rotumans and tourists alike."

He said this increase in passenger arrivals had the potential to open the floogates for trade and tourism dollars for Rotuma more than ever before.

"It's safe to say that the effects that this will have on the island's development will prove remarkable for years to come.

"I look forward to watching Rotumans flourish as they take full advantage of this new chapter in your island's history."

ATR aircraft at Rotuma

From Fiji Sun Online (30 October 2018)

Rotuma Pledges Support For Bainimarama's Government

by Charles Chambers

Bainimarama & Army Engineers

The chiefs and people of Rotuma yesterday pledged their support for the FijiFirst Government.

Gagaj Maraf, speaking on behalf of the Rotuma Council also apologised to the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the Government for the problems and differences they previously had.

Mr Bainimarama was in Rotuma yesterday to open the new $12.8 million 1400 metres chip-sealed pavement runway at Malhaha.

"I would like to reiterate our apologies towards the Government of the day for past events that had happened due to misunderstanding amongst the chiefs of Rotuma."

Gagaj Maraf said the council had travelled to Suva to relay its apology to Mr Bainimarama but he was not there.

"It is unfortunate that when we came to Suva, you were away in another country and we do hope that when you returned the message was relayed to you," the Rotuman chief said.

"I would like to reassure you that the Rotuman community will always rally behind your Government, the Bainimarama Government in trying to make Fiji a better Fiji. The General Election is just around the corner and with immense commitment that the Government of the day has made towards the development of Rotuma, I will no doubt say today that we all wish you another success in this coming election."

Gagaj Maraf said he was certain that there would be joy in the hearts of the Rotuman community not only in Rotuma, but also in other parts of the world at the opening of the new runway.

Meanwhile, Rotuma Council chairman Gagaj Samuela Manav said:

"Today marks an iconic and exceptional milestone achievement in our history.

"This day shall be forever etched in our memories and we forecast a promising future for the coming generations."

"This wouldn't have been possible without the great visit, kind assistance, support and vision of the Government of the day and we are very grateful to the Prime Minister and his administration.

"On behalf of the districts of Rotuma and our people I wish to sincerely thank you for all the hard work you have been doing for the betterment of the nation and Rotuma.

"Rotuma welcomes you with open arms."

Meanwhile, Mr Bainimarama travelled to the Government Station after the opening and witnessed a number of houses with the FijiFirst banner draping over the side.

He met with army engineers building the new Rotuma Hospital.

Edited by Percy Kean

Bainimarama with Rotumans

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with residents of Rotuma. Photo: Charles Chambers

From Fiji Times Online (29 October 2018)

Rotuma airport upgrade

By Shayal Devi

FIJI Airports has upgraded its facilities at the Rotuma Airport with a $12.8million construction of a new chip seal runway.

Executive chairman Faiz Khan said the project was 40 years in the making and had been shelved a number of times due to the challenges it posed.

“The last time it was shelved some 15 years ago, a budget of $22m plus variations was prepared for the runway alone,” he said.

“FA has delivered this project for $12.8m with a bigger scope which included consultant costs, fencing, fire tender, fire building, crop clearance and compensation, barging, charter flights etcetera.”

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama opened the runway at the airport today.

He said the project was about giving thousands of Rotumans, who had gone on to live elsewhere in Fiji and the world, a chance to visit their families and see their home with unprecedented ease.

PM at opening ceremony

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with other guests during the opening of the new chip seal runway at Rotuma Airport. Picture: Shayal Devi

From Fiji Sun Online (24 October 2018)

New Rotuma Chip Seal Runway To Open On Monday

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will open the new Rotuma chip seal runway on Monday.

Fiji Airports and Fiji Linkwill operate a spe­cial turboprop flight from Nadi to Rotuma for the opening.

This will also be Fiji Link’s inaugural ATR passenger service to Rotuma.

The flight will depart Nadi Airport at 8.30am and return at 2.30pm.

The Rotuma runway upgrade was an invest­ment of over $12 million.

Fiji Airports executive chairman Faiz Khan had earlier highlighted that the upgrade would transform the Rotuman economy bringing with it developments and economic activities

Mr Khan also noted that before only the Fiji Link Twin Otter was able to land at the Ro­tuma airstrip.

He also noted that larger aircraft such as ATRs could not operate out of Rotuma, but will do so after the upgrade.

He said: “ATR 72s will take around 70 pas­sengers with greater certainty on flight times and frequency.

“One can only envision the transformation this will have for Rotuma. The distance be­tween Rotuma and Nadi is around 600 km but at present feels like 60,000 kms.

“In the future Rotuma will be a destination just around the corner.

“The project has been made possible through the push and vision of the Govern­ment.”

He said there is no business case for Fiji Air­ports to develop Rotuma but they did so due to their social responsibilities as a Govern­ment owned entity.

ATR plane

About Fiji Link

Fiji Link is the wholly owned domestic sub­sidiary of the international carrier Fiji Air­ways. It operates a fleet of modern ATR and Viking Twin Otter Aircraft.