SAA on a mission to secure new location for Fagali’i Airport, in the long run

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Cabinet has tasked the Samoa Airport Authority, (SAA) to investigate and secure a new location to replace the Fagali’i Airport.

Savali reports, the Fagali’i Airport is again in the limelight for all the right reasons.

But the Cabinet instruction is a long-term plan, SAA Minister Olo Fiti Va’ai told the Savali Newspaper.

The SAA Minister is adamant that re-opening Fagali’i Airport which has faithfully served interisland travellers between American Samoa, Upolu and Savai’i for decades is made in the residents’  best interest complemented by businesses which have closed down and to improve transportation links between the two Samoas.

As for a new location to replace  Fagali’i, Olo says it is a difficult task since the Airport cannot be relocated elsewhere.

Airports should be built near the ocean in case of crash landings and everywhere in the world, major runways are built near residences.

In the meantime, Minister Olo said the Fagali’i Airport will open before Christmas. Adding that a Cabinet Directive has requested a health report regarding the safety of the location of the airport be provided.

The requested report seeks confirmation of the safety of the airport from any health-related issues taking into account grievances by members of the surrounding communities.
These health and safety issues which the Minister revealed to the Savali Newspaper in an interview at his office last week included; noise contamination and fumes from the planes.
But the Minister claims there are no records with the hospital (Tupua Tamasese Meaole) to support the claims are factual.
And although the airport was shut down several times since it was initially opened over the years there has never been any recorded proof of a death or illness that resulted from the area due to its closeness to surrounding residences for noise pollution or plane fumes.
“If it was rendered unsafe the NZ Civil Aviation Feasibility Study in 1939 would not have resulted with the airport eventually being established in its current location,” said Olo.
Plans to reopen the airport progressed again in the 1960s and wasn’t until 1970 that it was officially open for use and at the time it was merely a grass airstrip.
When asked what plans were in the pipeline to address the Cabinet Directive and whether this would include consultations with the communities surrounding the facility, the minister said no.
Instead, he claims that the last audit report conducted by the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) is still valid. PASO is an international organization that provides quality aviation safety and security service for Member States in the Pacific including Samoa.

SOURCE: SAVALI