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The com­mem­o­ra­tion of An­zac Day on April 25 this year will have spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for Aus­tralia and New Zealand, and for Pa­pua New Guinea.

This An­zac Day will com­mem­o­rate the 75th an­niver­sary of the defin­ing bat­tles of World War 2 in what was, then, the Aus­tralian ter­ri­tory of Pa­pua and New Guinea.

The most mem­o­rable bat­tle was for Kokoda, fought be­tween July and Novem­ber 1942, which saw many lives lost, and many more in­jured, on both sides. The loss of young Aus­tralian ser­vice­men’s lives was par­tic­u­larly se­vere.

But it has been cus­tom­ary to com­mem­o­rate all the sig­nif­i­cant bat­tles, on land, in the air, and the seas, in the Pa­pua and New Guinean the­atre of the war on An­zac Day. The 50th an­niver­sary in 1992 was com­mem­o­rated by a visit to PNG by the then Aus­tralian prime min­is­ter, Paul Keat­ing, which be­gan a sig­nif­i­cant Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ment to im­prov­ing the lives and fa­cil­i­ties of the re­main­ing war car­ri­ers, ser­vice­men, and the com­mu­nity of Kokoda.

This An­zac Day will also com­mem­o­rate the other sig­nif­i­cant bat­tles of the war, in­clud­ing those in Milne Bay, Oro, Morobe, Madang, East and West Sepik, Manus, East New Bri­tain and Bougainville, among oth­ers, that were all defin­ing mo­ments in World War 2.

Air Ni­ug­ini, as the na­tional flag car­rier, will be proud to help meet the trav­el­ling needs of ex-ser­vice per­son­nel from Aus­tralia and New Zealand, and the in­creas­ing num­ber of sons, daugh­ters, grand­chil­dren and great grand­chil­dren of ser­vice men and women, who will travel to PNG for this most sig­nif­i­cant com­mem­o­ra­tion.

In ac­knowl­edge­ment of the sig­nif­i­cance of the Kokoda Trail, Air Ni­ug­ini will this year name an air­craft ‘Kokoda’.

The de­scen­dants of the in­vad­ing forces of Ja­pan also are tak­ing a grow­ing in­ter­est in vis­it­ing the his­toric places that re­mind us of tragic bat­tles won and lost 75 years ago. As with Aus­tralia and New Zealand, Pa­pua New Guinea to­day en­joys close re­la­tions with Ja­pan.

Air Ni­ug­ini flies to Ja­pan with reg­u­lar ser­vices, and we have no­ticed a growth in Ja­panese tourism, much of it with links to World War 2.

Mean­while, late April will see the for­mal start of the cam­paign for our na­tional elec­tions. These elec­tions re­mind us of the essence of our democ­racy and our hard-won free­dom. They will also re­mind our neigh­bours and the world that Pa­pua New Guinea is proudly a strong and ro­bust democ­racy.

Our democ­racy owes its ori­gins to the suc­cesses, and sac­ri­fices, of World War 2 and our own peace­ful achieve­ment of in­de­pen­dence and na­tion­hood in 1975. This year is shap­ing as a busy and suc­cess­ful one for Air Ni­ug­ini. At the end of March we will start twice-weekly ser­vices to Townsville, North Queens­land, a city with a sub­stan­tial mil­i­tary and air force pres­ence. I want to thank the Mayor of Townsville, Jenny Hill, the own­ers of Townsville Air­port, Townsville En­ter­prise, the Townsville Bul­letin news­pa­per, the YWAM med­i­cal ships pro­gram and the busi­ness com­mu­nity for their en­thu­si­asm for this new ser­vice.

The ser­vice will ben­e­fit our own busi­ness com­mu­nity, the tourism sec­tor, ed­u­ca­tion, and fam­ily re­unions. It will also en­able rugby league fans to more eas­ily at­tend North Queens­land Cowboys matches. The PNG Hunters will es­pe­cially gain through eas­ier travel to play matches against the Townsville and Mackay teams in the Queens­land Cup.

The ser­vice will also pro­vide a new op­por­tu­nity for Townsville and NQ res­i­dents to ben­e­fit from the Port Moresby in­ter­na­tional air­port hub and con­nect with our ser­vices to the na­tions of South East Asia and be­yond, as well as the Pa­cific re­gion.

Later this year we will com­mence reg­u­lar ser­vices be­tween Port Moresby and Shanghai, China – the world’s fastest-grow­ing na­tion and an im­por­tant in­vest­ment and trad­ing part­ner with PNG, and an in­creas­ing source of tourism for our na­tion.

En­joy your flight.

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