Palau Airport, the only international airport in the country, is undergoing a major expansion and renovation in order to accommodate the increasing number of passengers.

The expansion is the first public-private partnership (PPP) project in Palau for infrastructure development with an estimated cost of JPY3.5bn ($32m).

Palau International Airport Corporation (PIAC), a joint venture between Sojitz Corporation, Japan Airport Terminal, and Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development, is responsible for the renovation, expansion, and management of the airport’s operations.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the expansion and renovation project was held in April 2019, while construction is expected to be completed in 2020.

The expansion project will stimulate viable social and economic growth in the country, as well as provide more opportunities for economic exchanges between Japan and Palau.

Details of the existing Palau International Airport

Palau International Airport is located in Airai state, which is situated in the southern end of Babeldaob Island. The airport handled approximately 276,000 passengers in 2017.

Situated across 26,000m², the airport features a single runway that is 2,195m long and 46m wide. PIAC signed an agreement to operate the airport for a period of 20 years in August 2017.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and PIAC signed a loan agreement for the renovation, expansion, and management of the airport in April 2019.

Palau International Airport expansion details

The project mainly involves the extension of the existing terminal building with a floor area of 2,000m². The terminal is also being renovated to expand its processing and commercial facilities.

The modernised terminal will be similar to the existing structure and will be equipped with new technology. It will also feature universal design, accessible toilets, elevators, slopes, and handrails.

A new office building with a floor area of 1,500m² will be constructed in addition to the renovation of the two-storey passenger building.

“The new terminal building will be constructed in place of the existing temporary facility and will be connected to the renovated main terminal through a bridge.”

Car parking facilities will also be expanded with 70 additional spaces. Bus stops and pedestrian footpaths will also be upgraded. The departures area will be doubled in size and will feature shopping, café, a lounge, and waiting chairs.

The Annex building will feature cargo and airline offices. An entrance from the main street to the Annex building will be built and new airside is planned separately from the main entrance to avoid traffic congestion.

The first floor of the Annex building will feature cargo, ground handling facilities, and government offices, while the second floor will house BOA offices, airline offices, PNAA, and a conference room.

Details of the new terminal at Palau International Airport

The new terminal building will be constructed in place of the existing temporary facility and will be connected to the renovated main terminal through a bridge.

It will be a two-storey building equipped with arrival and public commercial facilities. The first floor will accommodate a baggage claim hall with custom offices, and an arrival hall with tour company / rent-a-car counters.

The second floor of the building will feature an immigration hall, a restaurant, and a lounge in the public zone. The terminal will be served by a new substation and a back-up generator, which will have the capacity to operate for up to 72 hours.

The building will enhance the passenger experience with the addition of a nursing room and kids playing space.

Contractors involved

Nippon Export and Investment Insurance, in partnership with the Palau Government, provides investment insurance to PIAC. It also provides coverage for the political risk associated with the project.

Mott MacDonald provided technical due diligence services to JICA for signing the loan agreement. It will also provide construction monitoring services to JICA during the tenure of the project.