The sea end of the airport runway is vulnerable to cyclone damage that could cut off a disaster-struck Rarotonga from the world, a new risk assessment finds.
The Cook Islands Airport Authority has identified the western end of the runway, above the seawall, as the most vulnerable land in the event of a severe cyclone.
To ensure the airport runway can be revived after damage, the Cook Islands airport authority is commissioning a runway reinstatement plan.
Airport Authority Cook Islands Director of Operations Tony Wearing said the purpose of the Runway Reinstatement Plan would be to provide direction, guidelines, specifications, designs and drawings needed to restore operations from damage to the runway airfield or equipment on the western seawall.
Wearing said the runway had not suffered any damage from cyclones yet, but there had been minor damage to the banks around the seawall area during cyclones.
“If there was very significant gouging of the land around that area it could have an impact on the status of the runway,” he said.
Cyclone season is over but the Airport Authority is preparing for immediate actions that can follow such an event.
Wearing said the contingency plan would ensure any remedial work required to reinstate the runway to full length operations would be carried out in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.
“The idea is that in the unlikely event of something happening we would at least have a contingency plan in place to ensure any affected operations are addressed as soon as possible.”
Other than Rarotonga airport’s 2300-metre paved runway, Aitutaki has the only other sealed runway under Cook Islands Airport Authority management.