Emergency runway repairs have been completed at Henderson International Airport by a team from the Solomon Islands Roads and Aviation Project (SIRAP), ensuring the airport can remain operational and Solomon Islands can remain connected to the region and the world.
In early August 2022, Fiji Airways announced that it would temporarily cancel flights to Solomon Islands due to the degraded state of the Henderson Airport runway.
This led the Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Communication and Aviation to request urgent support from the World Bank-funded Roads and Aviation Project to ensure the runway could be repaired as swiftly as possible.
Within five days SIRAP had brought an international airport pavement specialist to Solomon Islands to carry out an assessment of the runway conditions and to propose a solution for the repair works, with Kitano, a Japanese contractor who is constructing the Henderson Airport Terminal Building and the road connecting the city center to the airport, contracted to undertake the works.
The works were completed by the early morning of September 15, 2022; just 45 days from Fiji Airways’ announcement.
This period covered ten days of all-night construction, with the remaining time was required to source materials, fast-track contractors, and complete preparatory works.
Lemuel Siosi, National Project Manager with SIRAP, said it was imperative that the emergency runway repairs were carried out effectively to allow safe resumption of flights into Honiara.
Siosi said the works were logistically challenging, with teams working throughout the night to ensure the airport could remain operational throughout the works.
“While a full runway refurbishment has been planned for some time through SIRAP and is expected to occur later this year or early in 2023, these interim emergency repairs were essential and urgent. We are pleased the project could respond so quickly to the Solomon Islands Government’s request for support,” he said.
“This rapid response was the result of close coordination between the Ministry of Communication and Aviation, the Airport Staff, the SIRAP team, and the World Bank and we are proud of the immediate action that was taken to ensure the safe operation of the airport,” Dung Anh Hoang, the World Bank Senior Transport Specialist said.
“The repairs were carried out throughout the night – beginning after the last flight and being completed before the first scheduled flight each morning – to ensure minimal disruption to the country’s gateway” he added.
Now in its second phase, the US$89 million World Bank-funded Second Solomon Islands Roads and Aviation Project will make the Solomon Islands aviation sector safer, more efficient and more climate resilient, while also delivering important upgrades to selected roads and bridges across the country.