The work to expand and improve Palau’s international airport began April 14thmarked by a ground breaking ceremony attended by representative of Palau’s elected and traditional leadership, private sector and the representatives of JATCO and SOJITZ Corporation, the Palau partners in the improvement of the airport.

The event also marked the official turnover of the staff of Bureau of Aviation to Palau International Airport Corporation (PIAC).

The project finally was able to move forward when President Remengesau signed into law RPPL 10-33 approving funding for the improvement and expansion of the airport, a rider in the Postgraduate Scholarship Act.

Minister Charles Obichang of MPIIC expressed that after three years of hard work, “we are now seeing the fruits of the plant what we planted years ago…that we can all take pride in.”

“This is the best example of public private partnership in the Pacific,” adding that JATCO and SOJITZ have demonstrated a great example to the Japanese businessmen that public-private relationship is the best.

The project components include construction of a new building that will host the departure area, renovation of the existing building to serve as the arrival area and another new structure on the left side of the existing terminal to serve as office to house PIAC, Immigration, Customs and airlines offices.

The project is expected to be completed by July of 2020 in time to welcome the guests to the Ocean 2020 Conference as well as other guests.

The project was initially faced with a lawsuit from members of Senate minority.  Court ruled in favor of the government on the case but it was raised again in an appeal.  Appellate court upheld trial court’s decision ruling in favor of the government.

Final barrier was removed with Congress a law last month approving funding for improvement and expansion of the airport terminal and exempting prime contractor of the project from gross receipt and import taxes. (By L.N. Reklai)