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Sun, Mar 09, 2003

South Pacific ATC Management Up For Grabs

Fiji Contract Up; No Word On Extension Or Replacement

Who will manage the Air Traffic Management Service out of Nadi International Airport after the extended contract of Strategic Air Services Limited comes to an end next week?

Good Question

Local aviation experts are now worried the delay in reaching a resolution might cause major problems for the flying industry. Those experts said the delay "sends the wrong signals about Fiji’s ability and capability in handling traffic management efficiently."

Fiji lost over $4.5 million in ATC revenue after Samoa and Tonga pulled out of Fiji in favor of better terms and conditions offered by Australia.

Minister Optimistic

Any further delay on Fiji could mean big problems for managing airspace in the South Pacific. Fiji Public Enterprises Permanent Secretary Niko Bulai said his department had to come to a decision soon as the area of ATM services was very critical in maintaining good relationships with other Pacific Island countries.

Bulai said, while the government realised the extended six-months term of SASL was just about up, he still hoped a "win-win" agreement would be reached before the deadline.

"There is a sub-committee appointed by government to come up with a solution best suited for all parties involved with ATC services and I understand that a report is nearing completion," Bulai said.

SASL’s $3.5 million annual contract expired in March 2002 and it has since provided ATC services under an extended contract.

FMI: www.fiji-islands.com

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