The Samoa Airport Authority (SAA) is the first to publicly praise the New Zealand Government for their NZ$11.5 million dollar grant to upgrade aviation security in Pacific states.
“The New Zealand Government has been very consistent in terms of assisting Pacific Forum countries, like Samoa, to update and modernise our airport security systems and equipment,” said SAA General Manager, Magele Hoe Viali.
He noted that over the years, the funding mechanism has provided the latest screening equipment and technologies to improve aviation security at the Faleolo International Airport.
“Just recently, through the same funding source, the SAA procured state of the art equipment which has resulted in the lifting of the ban on laptops on commercial flights imposed by our US counterparts. (Hawaii).
“SAA staff capacity building has also benefitted from the same assistance for many years.”
In announcing the grant funding in Apia last week, during the 48th Pacific Island Leaders Forum, the New Zealand Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gerry Brownlee, reiterated that the funding would ensure that no one would use the region for terrorism actions and disrupt Pacific developments.
“New Zealand is aware that the Pacific is under-resourced, hence the move to provide funds to upgrade the Pacific,” said Mr Brownlee.
“The screening initiatives will not only be for New Zealanders passing through, but there are also those transiting in and out of the Pacific.”
The announcement by the New Zealand Minister was a direct result of requests for assistance from Pacific Forum islands, like Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands.
“The New Zealand Pacific Security Fund (PSF) has continued, for many years now, to finance aviation security specialised capacity building programs and equipment upgrades,” explained Magele.
“The PSF was administered by Avsec New Zealand and the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority, but has been transferred to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“The Pacific Islands aviation security providers have continued to benefit from the PSF, and the announcement of this new proposed aid will greatly improve the screening of passengers for the Pacific Islands.
“It includes the latest equipment and technology and will also standardise all of the screening training and processes used by Pacific Islands.”