Palau To Upgrade International Airport

admin's picture

$29 million project to double capacity

By Maureen N. Maratita

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Business Journal, May 18, 2014) – Projects at the Palau International Airport will not only upgrade the facility in a variety of ways, but double its capacity and allow for smoother and more efficient use of the facility by its air traffic.

The biggest of these is the upgrading to the secondary apron, which the Palau Department of Public Works told the Journal is expected to exceed $29 million.

Ronald G. Gonzales, vice president and Asia Pacific regional manager for Lyon, said, "Building a secondary apron is going to double the capacity of handling planes at the airport. No place else in Micronesia, including Guam, is that kind of an increase being done."

Lyon is involved in the upgrades at the airport, he said.

"We are doing three separate projects at the airport right now, just ourselves."

Lyon projects are:

The secondary apron is intended to accommodate four Boeing 767 planes, as well as other aircraft.

"The purpose of that secondary apron is to allow more capacity to handle planes coming in and to try and separate the commercial passenger planes from the cargo planes, the military planes, the charter planes and all the other planes that are coming in and taking up space at the terminal now," Gonzales said.

Work on the secondary apron project began in 2008.

To date, a number of companies have worked on the project, which at present is anticipated to cost $29.73 million.

According to the Palau Department of Public Works they are EM Chen & Associates, design and construction management, $1.15 million; Surangel & Sons Co., contracts in the amount of $6.5 million, $5.25 million, and $6.69 million (less a change order), and most recently $9.5 million; and Lyon, construction management, $641,820.80.

Phase I of the secondary apron project at Palau's airport began in 2008 and was completed in November 2010 by Surangel, according to Journal files. Mason N. Whipps, executive vice president and chief operation officer said in an interview in 2011 that "it was the largest earthmoving project in Palau" other than the Compact Road.

The Federal Aviation Administration is funding the apron project. Its various stages include leveling the parking area; putting in a rock base, temporary paving and eight fuel lines, installing drainage and then permanent paving.

 

"All of the information on the Palau airport can be tied into a web-based information system so that the FAA, the airport and other stakeholders can at any time from any time from any place in the world come in and look at useful data that is going to help them in planning and developing further their use of that airport. That includes satellite imagery," Gonzales said.

A $500,000 grant is funding the GIS.

 

"Originally when I worked on that tarmac back in the mid-'90s, the only airline coming in was Continental," Gonzales said. The airline's Boeings refueled on one side only. "Now we have several airlines coming in ... they are flying all sorts of aircraft and some fuel on the left and some on the right. ... We are upgrading the fueling system, we're upgrading the hard stands to be able to accommodate larger and more frequent arrivals of planes, and we're upgrading the lighting and the marking on the runways." According to the Department of Public Works, it has $500,000 for ongoing design and anticipates construction costs to $10 million, to be funded in the coming fiscal year.

Gonzales said the work would bring the airport in line with its needs. "They're already getting bigger planes. Right now the real constraint at the Palau airport is space for the planes. We're trying to increase the parking space, and when they do park, they can park at any spot," he said.

Historically, all airports in the region have benefited from FAA grants for upgrades. "The FAA has been very generous to the Micronesian countries as well as Guam and Saipan in upgrading the safety and security of the airport facilities. Over the last 17 years they have really put a lot of money into each of them," Gonzales said.

As for the terminal, he said, "The terminal needs not necessarily larger space, but more efficient use of the space they have. I know the airport wants to look at how can they move more passengers through the terminal with the same space, and how can they reconfigure the flow of people through the airport to make that more efficient. Right now it's a real bottleneck if two or three planes come in. ... It's not really set up for that."

Lyon and GK2 Inc. will also work on the construction management for the Wild Orchid Resort Palau, adjacent to the Drop-Off Bar and Grill in Malakal, which will be built by NECO Construction (See "Blossoming in Palau," in the April 6 issue of the Journal.).

Gonzales said, "We will be performing the structural design for not only the main hotel building but also the other facilities such as the restaurant and the swimming pool. Because of the limited infrastructure in Palau we're also working on design of a water storage tank and a waste water storage facility. Those two utilities don't have capacity to handle that size resort in that location right now."

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment