A message from Air Niugini’s chairman
Ashortage of airline pilots has created a challenging time for the commercial airline industry in our region, and beyond. The rapid growth of air travel and services in the region has resulted in competition for pilots at record levels.
During the first quarter of 2018, Air Niugini experienced disruption to domestic and regional services because of the shortage.
We could not avoid the initial impact, and we have apologised to our valued passengers for delays to services, and cancellations that were unforeseen and unavoidable.
But I am proud of what our management team, and many staff, have done since to fix the situation.
The results became evident in May with record on-time performance (OTP) levels across our domestic, regional and international services.
We have adjusted schedules, and embarked on an urgent recruitment and training program, and the outcome, in a very short period, has been exceptional.
The average OTP for May was 91 per cent – the highest in our history – and higher than all airlines in Australia and New Zealand and the Pacific region. The challenge now is to maintain such an outstanding achievement – and it is a challenge I believe our team can deliver.
Our Fokker 70 fleet is providing the best possible service for our mainline domestic and regional passengers.
The subsidiary airline, Link PNG, continues to provide vital air services to the more remote, distant, and smaller communities across our nation. Despite the prevailing economic difficulties, the demand for the services provided by Link PNG has continued to grow.
Again, this response from the travelling public confirms that Link PNG is meeting a vital need, and is the only airline providing comprehensive services for our people, and businesses, living and operating in remote and distant communities.
To meet the public demand, an additional Dash 8 has been commissioned, bringing the airline’s Dash 8 fleet to eight.
As you, our readers, are no doubt aware, one of our highest priorities has been the development of Jacksons International Airport in our national capital as a major hub for the region – linking the Pacific Island countries, and North Queensland, with the rapidly growing Asian economies and APEC member nations.
We are exploring a range of new services, as well as upgrading existing services, to maximise the opportunities our modern, passenger-friendly international airport is providing.
History will be made in September when we commence regular twiceweekly air services to Shanghai, China. This service will strengthen our vital links with the world’s fastest-growing economy, and will lead into Papua New Guinea hosting the APEC Leaders’ Summit in November.
We are also carefully developing and varying our air services in our immediate region.
Starting on September 1, our twice-weekly Narita service will connect Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in both directions.
This will take advantage of the growing interest in diving and other tourism and adventure opportunities in FSM, a demand we have seen grow from Japanese and Australian travellers, in particular. It will now be easier for travellers to experience the attractions of Japan, FSM and PNG in the one trip.
Our next new destination in the Pacific will be Majuro, the capital of the Republic of Marshall Islands – scheduled to also start in September.
We are proud of the contribution Air Niugini makes to the development of tourism, and the promotion of our rich and diverse culture.
We are offering special packages for the following annual cultural events in July and August:
• The Mask Festival in Kokopo, East New Britain Province, July 11–14. A four-day extravaganza of cultural dances, ritual performances, story telling and exchange with a huge variety of arts and crafts.
• The Sepik Crocodile Festival in Wewak, East Sepik Province, August 5–7. A special festival celebrating PNG’s famous tribal heartlands and the significance of the revered crocodile.
Meanwhile, Air Niugini has hosted the second Air Niugini Kokoda Cup match in Port Moresby between the SP PNG Hunters and the Townsville Blackhawks (see story, page 10).
It is planned to have next year’s match in Townsville, which has a large PNG community. Staging the match there will also give PNG-based fans the opportunity to travel to Townsville for the weekend to celebrate the Kokoda Cup challenge.
Enjoy your flight – and we look forward to welcoming you again soon.