Air Niugini has sent-off Viva Macau B767-300 aircraft
and thanked the Viva Macau management and crew for their assistance to Air
Niugini to carry out international service from September 2007. The Viva
Macau B767-300 operated PX008 as its final flight to Manila and Hong Kong.
Air Niugini’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Wasantha Kumarasiri said that a
replacement A310 wide-body aircraft has been arranged by Air Niugini from
Portugal; White Airways S.A. to operate its international schedule until
Air Niugini’s own wide-body aircraft is introduced to the fleet.
p>White Airways S.A. aircraft will service the Australian sectors for a week
as a Charter service and Japanese route as a regular service whilst the
B757 from Icelandic Air will operate other Asian routes. After all
regulatory approvals are secured the B757 will service the Australian route
while White Airways S.A aircraft will operate to Asia. Meanwhile the
code-share passengers with Qantas will have transitional arrangements for a
day or two.
White Airways S.A will apply for services into the Australian regular
schedule service after completion of the first week’s charter service.
Prior to changing aircraft in August 2007, Air Niugini had overwhelming
demand from the traveling public to change the then operated B767-300ER.
Air Niugini responded to these demands and the change is now in motion.
Plans are in place to get the replacement aircraft. However, the delays
experienced are due to reasons beyond Air Niugini’s control. Around three
to four years ago, there were many aircraft in storage where airlines could
source from. Such environment does no longer exist and the market for wide
body aircraft has become very scarce in the recent years.
On the domestic service, the F100 aircraft leased from Canadian North Inc.
is expected to arrive within the next few days and enter service before
Christmas. Furthermore, a Dash 8-315 aircraft will be departing Germany
before the end of this week; it will take one week to ferry the aircraft to
PNG. This aircraft is expected to be in service before Christmas.
With the introduction of the above aircraft, Air Niugini will have adequate
redundancy to provide better customer service to its traveling public.
Mr Kumarasiri said that within the last two years, the aviation industry
has gone through a lot of changes. Huge shortage of suitable age wide-body
aircraft, an acute shortage of experienced pilots and other technical
staff, rising fuel and technical staff wage costs and entry of low cost
carriers with increased competition are among the major challenges.
Additionally, the PNG’s geographical environment and infrastructure
facilities add more challenges to Air Niugini’ operation.
As at January 2006, Air Niugini was operating a fleet of eleven aircraft.
Since then the airline has introduced four F100 into service while another
is being introduced; bringing a total of five additional aircraft to the
fleet, further added three Dash 8-300 series into service and two wet
leases, making it ten aircraft introduced within this period. The
introduction of ten aircraft within such a short period is a mammoth task.
Air Niugini is currently working towards introducing a dedicated Dash 8
freighter on its domestic network and another Dash 8 passenger aircraft to
meet its customer obligations.
Once the plans are fully implemented, Air Niugini will have six F100s,
eight DHC-8, one wide body and one narrow body long range aircraft making
the total fleet of sixteen aircraft. The fleet will allow the airline to
increase frequency to its current destinations in both domestic and
international and also to operate to new destinations.
It is pleasing to inform the general public, that since the lowering of
domestic airfares in February this year, the domestic traffic volume has
grown close to 20%. On the international service, Asian international
routes have experienced close to 10% growth.
The introduction of the above aircraft into PNG service has become possible
only with the assistance and support from various regulatory authorities
and government agencies in PNG and Overseas, banks and dedicated staff who
believe in Air Niugini. As the Chief Executive Officer take this
opportunity to thank all the authorities, banks, management team,
consultants and staff for their continued assistance and the Shareholder
and the Board of Air Niugini for direction and guidance.
Mr Kumarasiri also extended the airline’s appreciation to the traveling
public for their continued support and co-operation to Air Niugini and
takes this opportunity to wish all customers, Stakeholders and staff a very
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.