Samoa Airport Authority quiet on flood damage

The Samoa Airport Authority is keeping quiet about whether the $147 million tala, state-of-the-art Faleolo International Airport, had sustained damage after it was flooded last month. 

On 18 December during last year's flash floods the airport was closed and all flights were canceled, including planned replacement domestic services to Savai'i, to make up for canceled ferry trips.

A video went viral online showing parts of the airport's domestic terminal being flooded, and water overtaking weighing machines at the terminal's check-in area. 

It is unclear whether the equipment at the check-in area has been damaged and to what extent with the S.A.A. has refused to address the questions about the matter repeatedly.

To date emails and follow up emails and calls to the S.A.A.'s Chief Executive Officer, Silimana’i Ueta Solomona, and the Minister of Work, Transport and Infrastructure, Papalii Niko Lee Hang, have gone unanswered. 

Flooding at the area near the airport is unusual. 

It came after the Government earlier this year said it had taken receipt of a Japanese-led technical study that suggested that the newly-opened piece of infrastructure was vulnerable to sea-level rises.  

About 20 staff were cleaning out debris inside the terminal on the day of the flooding. 

On the outskirts of the airport, a fence surrounding its boundaries in Satapuala had been taken down by debris carried by flood waters, including logs and rocks.

In April, Silimana’i confirmed that a research team from Japan said the Government was aware of an elevated future risk of damage to Faleolo due to climate change.

The C.E.O. told the Samoa Observer at the time that the construction of the Ti'avea project, which has been plagued by budget variations, was needed as a fully-fledged alternative international airport given these vulnerabilities. 

“The extension of Tiavea came about after initial findings of a report being prepared by a research team from Japan stated an elevated risk of Faleolo being inundated from wave action during cyclones due to its proximity to the sea," Silimana’i said. 

He explained that such occurrences could render Faleolo airport unusable for extended periods of time.

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