PNG govt plans to 'build new airline'
Air Niugini, Papua New Guinea

Air Niugini, Papua New Guinea
Photo: RNZI

Papua New Guinea’s State Enterprises Minister has outlined plans to reduce flight cancellations and replace Air Niugini’s fleet of aged aircraft as the country struggles with frustrating flight delays.

William Duma has told Parliament Air Niugini has bought four used Dash 8 aircraft, which will arrive at the end of this month and in July.

The purchase will be funded from Air Niugini’s internal cash flow, but this means travellers could be seeing an increase in the cost of travel.

In addition, the PNG Cabinet has authorised Air Niugini to source 11 new jets to replace the Fokker 70s and 100s.

Those aircraft will begin servicing routes from 2024 to 2026.

Some of the jets will be purchased outright, while the rest will be leased until the airline is able to buy them.

In 2014, the airline had planned to purchase four Boeing 737 Max aircraft, but after safety concerns led to the grounding of the model, Air Niugini cancelled its order.

Now, the airline plans to bring in two Boeing 787 Dreamliners in March and April 2026.

“The plan is to replace the entire fleet eventually. What we are doing is to build a new airline,” Duma said.

The purchase of new planes is expected to reduce fuel costs by 25 percent, which is currently a major expense for the airline.

Air Niugini also plans to build an additional aircraft hanger, which will allow the airline to service its own planes in-country.

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