THE first flights to mark the official opening of the Solomon Islands’ only second international airport at Munda, Western Province, will be recorded in history as flights IE 716 and IE 717.
Around 9 o’clock in the morning, the flight departed from Honiara International Airport, and it touched down in Munda at 9:36.
The airline’s passengers joyfully clapped as they touched down on the freshly paved Munda Runway Overlay to mark the arrival of the first international flight at Munda International Airport.
As is customary in aviation to welcome a new flight, as the airbus approached the arrival tarmac, fire vehicles fired water cannons at it from both sides.
It was a beautiful sight as people from Munda and nearby islands gathered to witness the historic occasion.
On the flight’s manifest were important dignitaries which include the Prime Minister Hon.Manasseh Sogavare, MP, a handful of ministers of the crown and members of parliament, foreign diplomats and other important stakeholders.
In his speech to commemorate the unveiling of the new Munda International Airport, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare spoke at length in acknowledging the original landowners of the land on which the Munda Runway Overlay and new international and domestic terminal are built.
PM Sogavare pointed out that past governments have consistently worked with the landowners in ensuring the project took off the ground to what it is today.
The Prime Minister admitted that dealing with land matters in Solomon Islands is challenging, and to that end PM Sogavare acknowledged the Munda landowners and local community for their unwavering goodwill support.
“Despite the complexities of land issues, we are determined to build access roads, install air navigation and communication equipment, expand airport facilities, and address ownership issues concurrently. We must continue to appreciate the community’s enduring support, both past and present,” PM Sogavare stated.
The Prime Minister added that it is encouraging to see landowners are committed to government- led airport development activities despite of their differences.
PM Sogavare further stated that the landowning groups have used established processes and channels to event their disagreements, however, maintaining the commitment to complete the airport projects.
PM Sogavare paid tribute to the Dunde Vetu Bangara for their ongoing collaboration to resolve the eastern end land issues.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the success of the airport development signifies the partnership between Munda community and the government.
PM Sogavare also added that the presence of the Premier of Western Province and his provincial delegation signifies the Province’s unwavering commitment to collaborate with the national government and donor partners in delivering essential services to our people.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the minister of Communication and Aviation for allowing him (the Prime Minister) to be the guest of honor at the auspicious occasion to receive the completed subprojects from multilateral partner, the World Bank.
The Munda Airport Improvement Project is funded by World Bank and the Solomon Islands Government at a cost of USD 23.06 million.
The project contractors are China Harbor Engineering Company and the China Civil Engineering Company.