Around 600 police were sent to clear the road to New Caledonia's airport
Around 600 police personnel have been deployed to clear the road to New Caledonia's airport. AFP

More than 300 Australians were awaiting evacuation in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, as security forces were deployed to regain control of the highway to the Nouméa-La Tontouta international airport, which was shut down after violent unrest erupted a week ago.

French official, Louis Le Franc, on Sunday, stated that a police operation planned to take control of the highway connecting the Nouméa Airport would take several days, even as the pro-independence forces in Caledonia vowed to continue the roadblocks that have paralyzed territory, The Guardian reported.

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said they have been waiting for clearance from French authorities to send flights to New Caledonia so that the tourists stranded in hotels could be evacuated.

"We continue to pursue approvals because the Australian defense force is ready to fly when it's permitted to do so," he said.

The foreign ministers of Australia and New Zealand too said they were seeking French permission to fly out their nationals.

"French authorities advise the situation on the ground is preventing flights," the Australian minister, Penny Wong, posted on X. "We continue to pursue approvals."

Wong said that she and New Zealand's foreign minister, Winston Peters, had spoken with their French counterpart, Stéphane Séjourné, "to convey our condolences, express our gratitude for French efforts to restore calm, and reiterate our request for access."

Peters said New Zealand was ready to fly defense aircraft to bring home nationals, as commercial services have been grounded. Around 250 New Zealanders are reportedly stranded in Caledonia.

Qantas Airways said they have been in contact with Noumea Airport authorities since the shut down. "We're in close contact with DFAT [The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] and Noumea Airport authorities and preparing to respond quickly to help get people to their destinations when it reopens. We will continue to contact impacted customers directly with a range of options, including refunds," ABC News quoted a Qantas spokesperson.

New Caledonia was marred by riots after France imposed new rules granting voting rights to non-Indigenous residents.