Airport set to reopen

This file photo of a familiar scene of passengers boarding a United Airlines flight at Amata Kabua International Airport has not been seen since mid-January, when United suspended in and out-bound passengers from Majuro due to unsafe conditions in the airport terminal. This could change as early as April 11 now that the terminal renovation is completed. Photo: Giff Johnson.

GIFF JOHNSON

Last weekend’s completion of renovation work at Amata Kabua International Airport’s main terminal has paved the way for resumption of air service by United Airlines in the near future, according to RMI Ports Authority.

Tentative plans were in motion this week for passenger service to resume next week April 11. Passenger pickup and drop off in Majuro — except for repatriation groups that do not use the airport terminal — has been halted for nearly three months. United Airlines announced January 18 that it was halting passenger service to and from Majuro due to the hazardous condition of the airport terminal.

The problem with the terminal had been known since early 2020 when the Hawaii engineering company Pryzm issued a report on termite damage and other problems throughout the terminal. But no action was taken to improve the facility, even after a United employee fell through the floor of the airline’s former second floor office in the main terminal last October.

It wasn’t until United’s suspension of service that the RMI government and Ports Authority moved into speedy action, engaging Pacific International Inc. to renovate the main terminal, customs and cargo areas.

That work wrapped up this past weekend.

“We had an inspection with the stakeholders last Saturday,” said the Ministry of Works’ Project Management Unit Manager Melvin Dacillo. “The majority of work is complete except for minor additional and repair works at Immigration and we are ready to issue the substantial completion certificate this week.”

What this means is that when Dacillo issues his completion certificate, it will be transmitted to United Airlines for review and final approval of the resumption of passenger service for Majuro, said Ports Acting CEO Larry Hernandez Monday this week. He anticipated that this would see the first passengers going in and out of Majuro starting April 11.

“The work is done (for the main terminal),” said Hernandez. “Our main goal is to resume outbound service.”

The renovations have led to some changes in the terminal set up. Hernandez explained that the United main office and the previous Customs area will be flip-flopped in the new configuration. He added it would take a few days for United to move its equipment into the new office from the VIP Lounge where it has been temporarily located since January.

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