New flights link Ja­pan, Mi­crone­sia, PNG

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It ce­ments Air Niugini’s po­si­tion as a car­rier of choice con­nect­ing Asia with the Pa­cific Is­land na­tions.

Air Niugini will start direct air ser­vices be­tween Narita, Ja­pan and Chuuk, in the Fed­er­ated States of Mi­crone­sia (FSM), from Septem­ber 1. The air ser­vices agree­ment to for­mal­ize the ar­range­ment was signed be­tween the prime ministers of Ja­pan, FSM and Pa­pua New Guinea dur­ing the Pa­cific Al­liance Lead­ers Meet­ing (PALM) in Ja­pan in May.

The agree­ment gives Air Niugini the author­ity to carry pas­sen­gers be­tween Narita and Chuuk on the way to and from Port Moresby.

Air Niugini is now able to op­er­ate from Narita to Chuuk twice weekly. The ex­ist­ing weekly sched­uled ser­vice Port Moresby/ Chuuk/ Pohn­pei also re­mains, but from Septem­ber 1 op­er­ates on Thurs­days and will re­turn on Fri­days.

Air Niugini’s act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Ta­hawar Dur­rani, says that since the weekly Port Moresby/Chuuk/ Pohn­pei ser­vice was in­tro­duced 18 months ago, there has been an in­crease in Ja­panese and Aus­tralian tourists, in­clud­ing divers, as well as business trav­ellers.

He says that a mar­ket anal­y­sis con­firmed that fur­ther growth on the Ja­pan route could be achieved by in­clud­ing a stopover at FSM.

The ex­pan­sion to in­clude Ja­pan is an op­por­tu­nity for PNG and FSM to be mar­keted to divers and other vis­i­tors, not only from Ja­pan but also from North Amer­ica and Europe.

It ce­ments Air Niugini’s po­si­tion as a car­rier of choice con­nect­ing Asia with the Pa­cific Is­land na­tions.

“To­gether with the ex­ist­ing Pohn­pei/Chuuk/ Port Moresby ser­vice, we will con­tinue to pro­vide con­ve­nient con­nec­tions through Port Moresby for business and tourist trav­ellers to var­i­ous Air Niugini des­ti­na­tions in Pa­pua New Guinea, South-East Asia, the Pa­cific Is­lands and Australia, fur­ther en­hanc­ing Port Moresby as a gate­way hub in the re­gion,” Dur­rani says.

“There is a huge tourism po­ten­tial to PNG, FSM and the Pa­cific. The Ja­pan/ PNG route has been op­er­at­ing twice weekly for some time, and by com­bin­ing two great Pa­cific des­ti­na­tions, and work­ing closely with the business com­mu­ni­ties and the tourism sec­tor in PNG, FSM and Ja­pan, we are hope­ful this ini­tia­tive will cre­ate the plat­form for ser­vices to be fur­ther ex­panded.”

The FSM pres­i­dent, Peter Chris­tian, ac­knowl­edged Air Niugini and the gov­ern­ment of PNG for pro­vid­ing the needed air­line ser­vice be­tween FSM and PNG and has as­sured his gov­ern­ment’s con­tin­ued sup­port.

“The re­cep­tion in FSM has been very pos­i­tive since Air Niugini started ser­vices last year,” he says. “It has made travel eas­ier for tourists, divers, fish­er­men and also the lo­cal peo­ple to travel be­tween Chuuk and Pohn­pei, as well as FSM and other parts of Asia, Australia and the Pa­cific via Port Moresby. We look for­ward to this direct Ja­pan flight.” ■

Mi­crone­sia … pas­sen­gers dis­em­bark an Air Niugini Boe­ing 737 at Chuuk.

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