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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 14, 2002 - Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have reassured Fiji that -- unlike Tonga and Samoa -- they will not take away airspace management from Fiji, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said.

Mr. Qarase, speaking at the opening of a new Air Traffic Management Center at Nadi International Airport, said he received this reassurance during meetings at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Brisbane earlier this year.

He talked there with Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza over the continuing management of their flight information regions from Nadi International Airport.

Mr. Qarase said: "Let us now pursue this and develop a win-win situation for all countries.

"It is, of course, very sad, that Tonga and Samoa have decided to look elsewhere."

Samoa and Tonga have shifted control of their flight information regions to New Zealand. The New Zealanders had offered to pay them a share of the revenue from providing flight information to aircraft crossing their regions, something they did not get from Fiji.

Under the flight information region agreements, countries provide their own local airport air traffic control or flight information services. But their upper air space and flight information regions are controlled from a regional center.

Nadi International Airport had been a major regional center for providing flight information and upper airspace management since the 1950s, when it was developed as a key link for trans-Pacific aviation.

Mr. Qarase said Fiji has the expertise and the equipment to cover a large area of Pacific Islands air space.

The new Nadi center has state-of-the-art communication and surveillance equipment and uses satellite technology to monitor flights.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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