Papua New Guinea's National Airports Corporation (NAC) has reached an agreement with the local authorities in Buka to keep Buka airport open despite recent safety concerns. However, the nearby Kieta airport will remain closed for the time being.

On December 19, the NAC said that it would close Buka airport effective immediately due to the lack of fencing and other infrastructural shortcomings.

"Interfering with and damaging PAPI lights, pedestrians and animals crossing, vehicles driving on the runway and the runway strip being used as a playground by the nearby village and Buka town residents have been a norm," NAC Director Richard Yopo was quoted by The Post Courier.

Subsequently, the national and local authorities reached an agreement to implement remedies as soon as possible, including stricter patrolling of the territory and solving all outstanding land ownership disputes. This would allow the airport to continue operations without interruptions and proceed with the construction of fencing, which was originally due to be completed by December 2017.

At the same, Kieta, which was due to open earlier in December, will remain closed at least through January 9, 2019, due to the necessary investments in operational safety.

Both Buka and Kieta serve the restive Autonomous Region of Bougainville, also known as the North Salomons, off the eastern shore of Papua. The region is due to vote on its independence in 2019.

According to the ch-aviation capacity module, Buka currently sees services by Air Niugini (PX, Port Moresby) and PNG Air (CG, Port Moresby) to Port Moresby and Rabaul.