President Lionel Aingimea says the signing of the agreement symbolises the profound relationship and friendship between Nauru and Palau, “but also for the greater Micronesian sub-region.”
“Not only will the air services agreement strengthen the connectivity between our two island nations but provides an opportunity to augment economic benefits for both the benefit of our mutual countries.
“Nauru is committed to enhancing its role in the transportation sector sub-regionally, regionally and internationally,” President Aingimea said.
President of Palau, Surangel Whipps, Jr, says his country looks forward to the day when air services can be restored, recalling a medivac incident in 1987 when then, Air Nauru, answered the call to operate the flight from Palau to Manila.
“As small island states and large ocean states, one of the things… we understand is, without these connections to the outside world, we’re really isolated, and a lot of times we’re at the mercy of airlines and companies that maybe their interests may not be aligned with our interests,” President Whipps said.
He adds that establishing the ASA is an opportunity to “work together as Pacific brothers” and to see Nauru Airlines be a successful carrier and enhance services for the people.
The two leaders recognise the opportunities that each can offer in linking Asia, the west and the south.
Meanwhile, Nauru is undertaking domestic measures to improve national aviation and maritime connectivity services.
Nauru port is being upgraded to meet international standards while Nauru Airlines’ recent purchase of a Boeing 737-700 aircraft will accommodate longer flight times, reaching further destinations.
Preparatory work is also underway to resurface the airport runway that would strengthen aviation safety and compliance and position Nauru for increased air transportation activity into the future.
The agreement states that Nauru and Palau are mindful of the close ties that bind the two countries, and their desire to provide a framework for the conduct of air services.
The two countries also recognise the strategic role of international air transportation in the sustainable development of island economies, and especially through the promotion of trade, commerce and tourism.
The two countries are also conscious of the need to improve the level, quality and efficiency of air transport services within and beyond their respective countries.
President Aingimea expressed heartfelt thanks to President Whipps on behalf of the government for the recent mercy flight carrying 34 Nauruan patients and escorts to Taiwan from Nauru with a planned technical stop in Yap State for refuelling.
A problem with refuelling meant the flight crew and passengers needed to overnight, and Palau, being better equipped with accommodation and aviation requirements, cleared the plane and its COVID-vaccinated passengers to land and spend the night, before their onward travel to Taiwan.