FIJI GOVERNMENT ORDERS TERMINATION OF AIRPORT SERVICE CONTRACTS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 22, 1999 – PACNEWS)---The Fiji Government has directed Airports Fiji, Ltd. (AFL), the company established after the restructure of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Fiji Islands (CAAFI) earlier this year, to terminate its multi-million dollar contracts with private companies for air traffic control and fire services.

The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting that reviewed the current status of CAAFI and AFL. The Cabinet decided AFL should operate the services directly along with such services as electrical and building maintenance and airport security.

"Cabinet has taken this decision, recognizing the national importance of ensuring the safety and security of civil aviation in Fiji.

"This decision will also facilitate future arrangements for landowners at Nadi International Airport and for airport workers to join AFL as shareholders," a post-Cabinet statement said.

The statement also said an inquiry will begin immediately into allegations of improper practices in the sub-contracting of air traffic control and fire services to local companies, Strategic Air Services. Ltd./Airport Management Technical Services and Fire Control Fiji, Ltd. respectively.

"The investigations would also cover other services that were engaged and where allegations have been made of alleged corrupt practices," the statement said.

Attorney General Anand Singh earlier publicly stated that contracts were allegedly guaranteed to the companies before the tenders were finalized.

The Government has decided that CAAFI and AFL continue as separate operations with CAAFI to act as the regulator of civil aviation in the country.

"In this regard CAAFI will be responsible for licensing of airports, certification of people who work in the industry, licensing of aviation operators, certification of aircraft airworthiness, and ensuring that International Civil Aviation Organization standards and obligations are met.

"AFL is to own and manage all public airports in the Fiji Islands and the 16 outer island airports."

The new Government of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry put a halt to the restructure of CAAFI a few days after its election in May, and ordered AFL to re-employ over 300 sacked workers.

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