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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 13, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---Minister for Communications and Civil Aviation Meli Bogileka wants Labasa to be home to Fiji's third international airport, after Nadi and Nausori.

"I am all behind the idea of an international airport in Labasa because of the opportunities it will open to the people of the North," Mr. Bogileka said.

He said the planned airport would boost resources in Vanua Levu.

"Resources in Vanua Levu, especially in agricultural resources, will be given a great boost because an opening link to the overseas market will be opened," Mr. Bogileka said.

"At the moment, resources for export from Vanua Levu are being shipped to Suva before they can be shipped overseas, and that means additional expenses for exporters.

"It will be more ideal when there is a direct link from Labasa or Vanua Levu to overseas."

The idea of an international airport in Labasa was first submitted by Labasa town mayor Sarju Prasad at a divisional development committee meeting in September 1999.

Mr. Prasad said the town now has an improved road to the Labasa airport and an international airport would give recognition to Vanua Levu.

"We have already made a submission to the government for an international airport," Mr. Prasad said.

"Vanua Levu caters for a large amount of people and it will be cheaper for those intending to travel overseas to fly directly out of Labasa than traveling to Nadi or Nausori to be able to fly overseas."

Mr. Bogileka said he had also been approached by government ministers from Vanua Levu to look at the opportunity of setting up an international airport in Vanua Levu.

"But this is a major development and we will have to tread on it very carefully. There are land issues, social implications and also environmental implications to be dealt with," Mr. Bogileka said.

"And the main problem is the financial side of the matter.

"If we had the necessary funds or could invite some overseas aid we will go ahead with it, but at the moment it is just a proposal we are looking at it."

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fiji Live.

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