Lat 6° 18' 19S Long 155° 43' 41E Kieta Airfield is located south of Kieta and the Aropa River, parallel the eastern coast of Bougainville. Also known as "Aropa Airport".
Built prewar as a single grass surfaced runway.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
Occupied by the Japanese without resistance on March 31, 1942. A reconnaissance was made of the runway at this location on June 19, 1942. It was measured to be 800 x 80 meters.
The staff officers responsible for the 25th Air Flotilla and the 8th Base Force, and the commander of the 14th Establishment Unit over flew Kieta Airfield in a flying boat on July 8, 1942. As a result of this reconnaissance, the commander of the 25th Air Flotilla sent a report outlining his conclusions to the Airbase Force Command.
They deemed expansion of the airfield would not be completed until early September 1942, after the airfield under construction at Lunga Point Airfield [Henderson Field] was completed, making immediate efforts to construct it negligible. Further, the airfield was not able to be expanded, suffered drainage problems and had obstructions at the end of the runway.
Although neglected by the Japanese as a landing ground, Kieta Airfield was neutralized by the Allies by aerial attacks for over year between the middle of 1943 until middle of 1944. On a 1945 survey map, the airfield was listed as 'destroyed'.
Allied missions against Kieta
January 21, 1943 - June 14, 1944
After the war, Kieta Airfield was repaired and used as the main airport serving Bougainville. Known as "Kieta Airport" or "Aropa Airport". Airport Codes: ICAO: AYKT, IATA: KIE.
During the "Bougainville Crisis", this airfield was abandoned in 1988 and much of the airport infrastructure was destroyed. In 1999 used by the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG). After the crisis, the airport was again abandoned and overgrown.
During February 2012 the owners announced their intention to reopen the airport. On December 12, 2014 Aropa Airport was reopened during a ceremony attended by Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O'Neill and President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville John Momis. The rebuilt aircraft is capable of accommodating Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft. Air service is provided by Air Niugini, PNG Air and charter aircraft.
Japanese army operations in the South Pacific area: New Britain and Papua campaigns, 1942–43 page 124-125.
National Airport Corporation (NAC) - Aropa
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
March 31, 2017