Aviation industry moves through transitional phase
Leading airlines and airports in Papua New Guinea are experiencing significant change as the country’s economy grows and it prepares to host major international events.
Papua New Guinea’s aviation industry is set for a new era after national carrier Air Niugini delivered a major shakeup by establishing domestic subsidiary, Link PNG. Having recently celebrated 40 of continuous service, Air Niugini launched Link PNG in November 2014 with the aim of providing more choice to local travellers through a safe, lowcost carrier. The new airline will compete with the POMSOXlisted airline Airlines PNG and charter services.
‘The carrier will also service PNG routes on a community service obligation (CSO), ensuring that not only are remote and less profitable services maintained, but progressively expanded to meet the growing transport needs of the nation and its people,’ Air Niugini Chairman Sir Frederick Reiher explained at Link PNG’S launch.
The creation of Link PNG removes the risk of air services being reduced through an ownership restructure of Air Niugini or private sector capital injection, according Reiher. Instead, he said, services will be ‘guaranteed and increased’.
Popular routes between Port Moresby and Lae have been expanded, while destinations such as Mount Hagen, Kavieng, Hoskins, Lae, Kundiawa, Madang, Wewak, Mendi and Daru have also received a boost.
Link PNG, which is led by Chief Executive Officer Daniel Wanma and based at Port Moresby’s Jacksons Airport, operates as a separate entity with its own board and management. It launched with seven aircraft and 145 employees.
Air Niugini CEO Simon Woo said the move geared Air Niugini to engage in smarter business practices through the delivery of aviation services in a cost-effective manner.
‘It’s imperative that Air Niugini embraces new and modern ways and means of delivering its services,’ Foo says.
Air Niugini is planning to add new international services to accompany the domestic restructure, and has acquired a Fokker 70 aircraft for use on expanded routes to Fiji, Vanuatu and other Melanesia countries.
Airlines PNG demand
Meanwhile, customer demand has led to Airlines PNG strengthening its domestic network, with the company improving its services between major routes such as Port Moresby and Lae, expanding island links to airports at Kimbe and Kokopo on West and East New Britain, and adding several new destinations.
Airlines PNG has also welcomed a new Chairman, Murray Woo, to the company following the resignation of Simon Wild after more than six years in the position, and bolstered its fleet to 14 by adding two Dash 8 aircraft.
Expanding domestic and international services are being complemented by the National Airport Corporation’s K1.4 million (US$520 million) redevelopment of PNG’S major airports.
Ahead of the 2015 Pacific Games and 2018 APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Jacksons International Airport is undergoing widespread improvements to accommodate the increases in traffic associated with a growing economy.
The centrepiece will be an extension to the international terminal, which is expected to be completed in time for the Pacific Games in July 2015.
Lae’s Nadzab Airport is preparing for a range of projects to cater for growing requirements in the coming years, including an improved runway, bigger and more functional terminals, and development of airport related industries.
Meanwhile, construction of the Lae–nadzab Road upgrade into a four-lane highway is continuing, with its completion expected during 2016.
Aropa Airport on Bougainville was reopened last December, 24 years after being shutdown due to a crisis on the island.
Three airlines—air Niugini, Airlines PNG and Travel Air—made their first flights to Aropa during the month, and there have been discussions regarding the possibility of launching flights between Bougainville and the Solomon Islands.
A new airport in Mount Hagen is expected to open in 2015 to help the city emerge as an agricultural hub.