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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 17) - Tokua airport In Papua New Guinea’s East New Britain province will be declared an international airport in June if all goes well, said East New Britain Governor Leo Dion.

Dion said the East New Britain Provincial Government would gradually take responsibility for the airport, something his government looked forward to after a long wait.

He said the takeover was supposed to have taken effect last month but the Civil Aviation Authority was not ready and put it off to June.

The CAA is working on a business plan for the airport while the Department of Transport and Civil Aviation is working on a policy paper.

Dion said he was verbally assured that Tokua would be declared an international airport by the middle of this year.

He said if this eventuated, PNG would have a northern gateway, which would boost tourism not only for East New Britain but for the entire New Guinea Islands region as well.

Authority over the airport and its proposed elevation to international status have been the subject of controversy following the introduction of direct flights between Rabaul and Honiara in the Solomon Islands.

CAA director Angrew Ogil had said that Tokua was not classified as an international airport and direct flights to the airport were not possible because it did not meet International Civil Aviation Organisations requirements.

That resulted in the cancellation of further direct flights between Tokua and Honiara.

But Dion, the provincial administration and business houses in the province have been calling on CAA to state the necessary requirements needed for Tokua to be recognized as an international airport.

Although no specific details were given, CAA is currently preparing Tokua for the handover to the provincial government.

February 18, 2005

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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