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Runway lights force flights cancellation

Malfunctioning airport runway lights triggered by a burnt out fuse led to the cancellation of two flights from New Zealand on Friday night.  

This is according to the Samoa Airports Authority’s Acting Airport Manager, Silimana'i Ueta Solomona, in an interview with the Sunday Samoan. 

“The runway lights were out as of Friday morning and because we could not resource it locally, we had to inform Air New Zealand. 

“We did get the part from Fiji in the afternoon, and the problem has been resolved,” he said.

Samoa Airways does not have night flights with only Air New Zealand affected as they operated night services, he added. 

Questioned on whether the problem could re-occur, Silimana'i said the Samoa Airport Authority did not anticipate having problems with the runway light fuses.

“To be honest, we did not anticipate this would happen. However, now that this has happened, we have ordered more fuses to ensure this does not occur anymore. We got the fuse and the spares yesterday (Friday) afternoon from Fiji and that was the only early flight.” 

The Acting Manager also used the opportunity to apologise to the travelling public, who were affected by the flight cancellation from New Zealand.   

“Again we did not anticipate this would happen and this occurred out of the blue and we sincerely apologise for the disruption of flights for Air New Zealand. And that action has been taken to assure that parts are stocked up to avoid the cancellation of flights.” 

He said the airport is well aware of the impact of flight cancellations but this does not happen all the time and this was just one flight (to and from) Samoa that had to be cancelled. 

“And so we are negotiating with Air New Zealand, but for the time being, the airport will not pay any fee to the airline for the cancelled flights,” he added.

An Airport engineer, who did not want to be named, said it would be impossible for any aircraft to land at night — without the runway edge lighting working. 

“It is for safety purposes and so the passengers should be assured their safety is paramount to us than anything else. 

So you see at airports, where there is a control tower, the tower will manage the lights to account for visibility and pilot preference and again without these lights, landing is impossible,” said the engineer. 

According to the engineer, the faulty runway lights were repaired in the afternoon, but the airline went ahead and cancelled its flights. 

“The airline was informed ahead of time of what has occurred and we had to make sure we get the parts and the issue is resolved, before we can officially inform the airlines. Again by the time the airline was informed, that matter had been resolved, they had already cancelled their flights.” 

The Sunday Samoan visited the airport yesterday and spoke to several passengers who were affected and they said they were advised prior to the flight.  

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