Aviation in Vanuatu Receives Critical Upgrade

May 8, 2015

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2015 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a credit of US$59.5 million to improve the safety and efficiency of Vanuatu’s aviation sector – a critical pillar in Vanuatu’s continued social and economic development, and a key part of its disaster management and recovery activities.

The Vanuatu Aviation Investment Project will deliver sector reform, along with essential upgrades to runways, terminal infrastructure and air traffic control management for Vanuatu’s international airports.    

“Efficient and safe air travel is vital to Vanuatu’s tourism sector, regional integration, foreign trade and the broader economy,” said Franz Drees-Gross, Country Director for the World Bank for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. “Approving this project has been a priority for the World Bank, especially given the important role aviation continues to play in Vanuatu’s recovery following tropical Cyclone Pam.”

A World Bank technical team arrived in Port Vila on March 31, days after Cyclone Pam, to negotiate funding for the project with the Government of Vanuatu, with formal approval announced just over one month later. US$3.8 million of project funding has been set aside for emergency reconstruction works.

The project will invest in key aviation infrastructure and navigational and communication equipment in Vanuatu’s three international airports – including new runway lighting and improved safety and security equipment for luggage and cargo screening. Bauerfield International Airport will receive urgent runway rehabilitation and a new domestic terminal.

In addition, the project will finance the strengthening of Vanuatu’s aviation regulator and institutions by developing an Airport Master Plan and an Aviation Sector Strategy, as well as delivering targeted technical assistance and training to identify and support the sector’s long-term needs. 

“The Government of Vanuatu is acutely aware of the importance of strengthening the nation’s aviation sector for all Ni-Vanuatu,” said Maki Simelum, Vanuatu’s Minister for Finance. “We are looking forward to working with the World Bank to deliver this project, which will see vast improvements to air travel within Vanuatu for tourists, business operators, healthcare providers and those assisting natural disaster recovery.”

US$59.5 million for the project will be funded through a credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. The Australian Government has committed US$300,000 through the Pacific Regional Infrastructure Facility (PRIF) for a safety and security audit and advisory support services.

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