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Papua New Guinea Airline Air Niugini abandons Boeing 737 Max orders

Papua New Guinea's national flag carrier , Air Niugini has affirmed it will abandon its orders for four Boeing 737 Max aircraft earmarked for delivery in 2020 and 2021.

The national airline will now focus between aircraft manufacturers Embraer and Airbus following flight demonstrations done within the country this year.

The Boeing 737 Max had come under worldwide scrutiny following major accidents in Indonesia 2018 and an Ethiopian flight earlier this year. This forced the fleet to be grounded that continues to date.

“The 737 Max aircraft is still grounded and they haven’t got a short-term timeframe of when that may be,” Air Niugini managing director Alan Milne said.

“We are talking to Boeing as well because we have those aircraft on order.

The Fokker decision is taking priority for us at the moment but we are talking to Boeing about what the outcome for Air Niugini is and what the best outcome is and they are very supportive in that.

“2020 and 2021 we won’t be getting those aeroplanes in those timeframes now and that will slide, you know at the moment we are trying to help Boeing and Boeing will help us, there are other airlines with huge delivery orders that they are trying to manage so these aircraft are quite capable of operating some of the 737 missions well so that is the sort of numbers that we are crunching at the moment.

“But I can tell you that we won’t be getting the Max in 2020 or 2021.”

He said recent aircraft demonstrations by Embraer of Brazil and Airbus will quite possibly be considered replacements for the aircraft that were earmarked from Boeing.

He said while both the Embraer E2 passenger jet and Airbus’s A220 had chances with recent demonstrations, the final decisions at the end of the day relates to the most efficient numbers for Air Niugini and its operations.

“The decision will be based on the numbers. The aeroplane needs to meet our mission and the price has to be competitive to purchase them.”

He said the decision will have to be made considering lead time from making orders to actual delivery varies significantly.

“The purchasing decision will be between the Airbus and the Embraer down the track and we need to make that decision quickly because it takes a long time between making the decision, ordering and then building it,” Milne said.

“Once we get to the decision around which aeroplane is the right one then we start the commercial negotiations on who much we are going to pay and that would depend of course on how many we order, over what sort of timeframe for delivery, it is the same as if you buy a fleet of motorcars.

The more you buy the cheaper each one will be,” he said.

Meanwhile, Airbus’s latest aircraft the new Airbus A220 passenger aircraft visited Port Moresby Wednesday on its world tour demonstrating the capabilities of the new craft as its set its paces across the eastern skies over the Southern hemisphere.

Politicians that included Prime Minister James Marape, airline industry executives, and members of the press were taken on a tour of the aircraft’s leading edge capabilities.

Air Niugini managing director Alan Milne commented on the airplane’s performance of the A220-300 version that graced the Jackson Airport runway, saying its presentation falls into the category of planes earmarked in its fleet replacement plans.

“We have been very honoured and privileged that Airbus are bringing in their A220-300 into Port Moresby,” he said.

“It is on a bit of a world tour at the moment to demonstrate its capability of that aircraft.

“Now that aeroplane falls squarely into the requirements that we need under Air Niugini to replace the Fokker Jet fleet.

So we have had the Embraer E2 aircraft earlier a couple of months ago (July) earlier in the year and this is the competitor A220.”

Milne was most impressed with the cost economy of the aircraft with a 30 per cent reduction in the current Fokker costs.

“This is the latest technology in both engine and airframe manufacturing; the engines are a form of jet engine that I have never seen before.

“They are the leading edge of technology.

The aircraft and engine technology combination can save Air Niugini up to 30 per cent of what we can pay with our Fokker operation at the moment.


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