A message from Air Niugini’s chairman
The retirement of Simon Foo on March 30 as chief executive officer of Air Niugini deserves to be acknowledged. In thanking him, and welcoming our acting CEO, Tahawar Durrani, I want to briefly outline some of the significant achievements made during Simon’s five years as CEO.
In response to the directive by the board of Air Niugini for significant restructuring to achieve greater efficiency and secure the airline’s financial future, the airline’s management, under Simon, implemented a major restructure, including a review of employment conditions, without industrial disruption.
It also underwent a major re-fleeting program, which has delivered passenger-friendly and longer-range aircraft for the next decade. ( The program will be completed soon with the introduction of the last three of nine Fokker 70 planes.)
They will be equipped with new economy and business class seats, and Wi-Fi streaming, operating on our main domestic routes and key regional services to the Pacific Island capitals and North Queensland.
Another important achievement under Simon’s watch has been the establishment of Air Niugini’s subsidiary airline, Link PNG, which has enabled us to expand air services to remote and smaller destinations across Papua New Guinea.
Link PNG has won acceptance from passengers and local leaders and communities, and is playing a vital role in meeting the air travel needs of our district centres and rural population.
After a career with Air Niugini that goes back to the foundation of the airline in 1973, Simon leaves with the gratitude of the board, and our shareholder, the National Government, as well as our 2000 employees.
We welcome Tahawar Durrani, who has served in senior management positions with the airline for 13 years. He brings integrity, commitment and vast experience in the airline industry to our top management position.
Meanwhile, the airline’s new residential apartments, next to head office in the Jacksons International Airport precinct, opened recently. The complex represents a valuable development for Air Niugini as it will provide accommodation for airline executives and contract staff, including pilots. It will also be available to staff from provincial, regional and overseas posts attending training and conferences.
The new complex will cut the airline’s accommodation costs, and deliver other efficiencies in areas including transport and security.
Our next major infrastructure project is a new hangar facility that will enable heavy maintenance of aircraft to be carried out in country for the first time. This will deliver massive cost savings for the airline.
Earlier this year, 10 young Papua New Guinean aircraft maintenance engineers returned after a four-year training program at the Air New Zealand Aviation Institute in Christchurch. The program is an ongoing partnership with Air New Zealand and is enhancing our already firstclass training and skilling commitment to our national employees.
Air Niugini is not just proud of our localisation and training achievements, we are at the forefront in enhancing the role of women in our employment. Recently we welcomed Beverly Pakii as our first female jet aircraft captain, followed by Sharon Tarah who has taken command as a Dash-8 captain.
Last year, our first female general manager, Bonai Wala, was appointed to head one of our key subsidiary companies, Air Niugini Properties and Facilities. In total we have 52 women in managerial roles.
Before I conclude, I need to explain the recent disruption to some services, caused by a worldwide shortage of experienced pilots.
We predicted the shortage and have already stepped up training, but the loss of some pilots has necessitated a short-term reduction in some air services.
I can assure you, our valued passengers, the restoration of full services is a priority. I apologise for any inconvenience and thank you for supporting Air Niugini.
Enjoy your flight – and we look forward to welcoming you again soon.