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Air Niugini plans for busy end of 2017, Link PNG committed with cliental backing

Papua New Guinea national flag carrier, Air Niugini has set its sights on another busy end of year schedule.

With the onset of the PNG Games in November and the usual peak period of the festive season- current flight numbers will be maintained for the festive period pending any addition demand to accommodate additional flights.

“Firstly the Papua New Guinea games will be on in the later part of November so we have to plan for that as well,” Air Niugini general manager, customers and markets Dominic Kaumu said.

“We have effected a schedule for the peak period that is based on our schedule of last year.

“At this stage we have not put on any additional flights, however, when there is demand we will add additional flights.”

Kaumu said between Christmas and New Year, a period of low passenger numbers exists throughout the country.

He said distribution of traffic throughout the period is equal throughout the country.

“The Highlands in particular we will be concentrating on Mt Hagen, because the Highlands region they tend to use Mt Hagen as a hub, going into Mt Hagen and feeding out to the other provinces.”

“We are opening about four flights a day to Mt Hagen that will cater for that, New Guinea islands has been factored in as well alongside the Momase region as well.”

Meanwhile, servicing rural airports in the country continues to be a challenge considering the issue of profitability and costs incurred.

Link PNG airline, a subsidiary of Air Niugini, however, insists it will maintain its stand to deliver air services to the entire country through the support of its corporate cliental.

With the aim to service rural regional areas of the country it is also looking to get the support of Members of parliament as well to ensure vital air services continue to reach districts in the country.

General Manager, Link PNG Bruce Alabaster said this during the signing of a contract with Oil Search Limited that will provide logistic services for the company for the next three years.

“We are actually here to ensure we have got a viable operation for the rural and regional areas.”

“We will focus on areas like Wapenamanda, Tari, Mendi, Daru, Kiunga and Lihir.

“It is really about focusing on the rural and regional areas where it wouldn’t be actually viable to operate jets.

And so likewise we are trying to work with local members of parliament for other rural airstrips,” he said.

Alabaster said the great thing about contracts with Oil Search is that it actually covers some of our fixed overhead costs, so we can operate these services cheaper and viably.

“It has been reported in the past that many domestic routes operated by Air Niugini before 2014 and Link PNG now are not lucrative enough.

“We have got a range of great corporate clients like Exxon, Harmony and Oil Search.

“We can work with those and ensure that the airfares are low enough for people who travel a lot so that the low factors stay up, and then at that point it actually becomes viable for these ports,” Alabaster said.

He said their current fleets of Dash 8- 200 and 300 series aircraft are best suited for airstrips around the country.

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