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MELBOURNE, Australia (June 8, 1998 - Radio Australia/PACNEWS/Ioane)--- Three Pacific area airports have been identified as having critical safety deficiencies.

A report compiled by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA) lists 150 airports which pilots say have potentially major safety problems -- and 15 which are critically deficient. The airports at Wellington, New Zealand; Suva, Fiji; and Nauru are listed in the critically deficient category.

High winds at Wellington are a common problem. The crew of a plane carrying the President of Argentina, Carlos Menem, refused to land there during a recent official visit.

The report says pilots landing in Suva should be extremely cautious because the runway is narrow.

The federation also is concerned about the length and width of the runway at Nauru.

The listing of airports considered critically deficient originally was presented to a closed IFALPA meeting in Canada earlier this year. The associations represent more than 115,00 pilots.

"It's the official wish list of the places you'd rather not land at, take off from or fly over," said one pilot. "They're not necessarily dangerous places, but the margin of safety can be horrendously narrow."

Executive Director of IFALPA, Cathy Bill, said if airports were listed, it meant they had serious deficiencies, not that they were unsafe. "There are potential dangers, but there are potential dangers when you get into any plane.

In addition to the three South Pacific airports, others listed are Hong Kong, San Francisco (USA), Nice (France), Fornebu (Oslo, Norway), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Leticia Rio Negro and San Andres (Colombia), Maiquetia (Venezuela), Lagos and Port Harcourt (Nigeria) and Kabul (Afghanistan).

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