An upgrade of the Santa Cruz airport, worth an estimated SBD 117 million funded by the World Bank is set to commence soon through the Second Solomon Islands Roads and Aviation Project.
The Ministry of Communication and Aviation and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development have contracted a Joint Venture of Egis Asia Company Limited as the Design and Supervisory lead under the Second Solomon Islands Roads and Aviation Project (SIRAP2). The design for the Santa Cruz Airfield improvements was completed with New Zealand assistance in 2019 which will be reviewed to meet project requirements. After review and approval of the design the project will enter the procurement phase and then construction.
This upgrade is essential as the 645-kilometre distance from Honiara means it can be difficult for aircraft to return from Santa Cruz if there are adverse weather conditions or mechanical issues. A properly sealed all-weather landing strip in the Eastern part of the country will be an important addition for the safety and reliability of air travel in Solomon Islands.
Currently, the runway in Santa Cruz is topsoiled and often saturated with standing water. Without a proper pavement and drainage system, the runway is easily flooded, which damages the runway and makes landing and takeoff difficult. The northern end of the runway is also exposed to increasing wind driven ocean swells.
To adapt to these climate risks, SIRAP2 will upgrade the airfield’s seawall, seal the runway and improve the taxiway airfield drainage, and apron.
The upgrade will improve wet weather operations and safety for Dash 8 aircraft in Santa Cruz.
The improvements will also save passengers time, and lower costs. It should also lead to reductions in travel time and reduce delays related to service disruption. Further, passenger numbers are expected to increase once construction is completed.
SIRAP2 is also constructing four new bridges in Malaita (Kolofe1, Kolofe2, Su’u Harbor, and Bira Bridges), upgrading roads in Noro, providing upgrades to Honiara and Munda Airports, providing investments in air navigation systems in Makira-Ulawa and Temotu Provinces, and supporting regional airport maintenance.