Fiji Airports has secured $49.91m (A$68m) in funding from the Australian Government to enhance air connectivity and services in the region and recover from the pandemic.

The financing has been provided through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), along with ANZ Bank.

The AIFFP is a $1.46bn ($A2bn) facility established by the Australian Government in 2019 to provide financing for infrastructure development in Pacific countries and Timor-Leste.

Fiji’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic with international borders shut down.

The funding from AIFFP in partnership with ANZ aims to help Fiji Airports continue development during the pandemic and prepare for the reopening of international travel.

This funding will upgrade ground infrastructures such as aircraft parking slots, aprons and air traffic control systems. The aim is to enable the airports to take more passengers when international travel returns to normal.

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The loan amount will also help fund essential maintenance and capital works at Nadi International Airport (NAN) and several outer islands’ airports.

Besides, it will be used by the airports to refinance existing debt and support the infrastructure priorities of Fiji Airports.

Australian Foreign Affairs and Women Minister Hon Marise Payne said: “This partnership between the Australian Government and industry responds to the needs of Fiji and underscores the importance of the entire region working together to overcome shared challenges.

“This investment will support a critical aviation hub that services much of the South Pacific.”

Established in 1999, Fiji Airports operates 15 public airports in the Fiji Islands that include Nadi International Airport and Nausori International Airport (SUV) in Suva and 13 domestic outer island airports.

It also provides air traffic management (ATM) services in the Nadi Flight Information Region (NFIR) to airspace that includes Fiji, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kiribati and Vanuatu.

In May, IT company Unisys signed a six-year agreement with an international airline consortium operating to and from Australia to provide an advanced Baggage Reconciliation System (BRS).

The deal covers seven international airports at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Adelaide and the Gold Coast.