First aircraft in Air Niugini’s new fleet arrives

Air Niugini Boeing 737-800 next generation series aircraft (Photo: Dr Billy William Joseph MP/Facebook)

Air Niugini Boeing 737-800 next generation series aircraft will service the airline’s domestic and international operations, says acting chief executive officer Gary Seddon.

“We are exceptionally proud to welcome this latest addition to the Air Niugini family and adorned in a special retro livery as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations,” he said after the plane landed at Jackson Airport in Port Moresby on Monday.

Seddon said the airline was pleased with its new Bird of Paradise.

“It has economy and business class seating,” he said of the nine-year-old aircraft.

“There are numerous members of the project team, and I would like to thank everyone involved in this project; our Air Niugini team led by Tiana Ila, our pilots Captain Danny Vavar, Captain Barry Casupang and First Officer Waita Kama, and the support of Civil Aviation Safety Authority PNG under director Benedict Oraka,” Seddon said.

The CEO had said earlier that Air Niugini was expecting to receive four Dash8-Q400 turboprop and two Boeing 737-800 aircraft in September.

“Air Niugini operates aircraft to one of the highest standards of aviation and airworthiness in the world. “This is a very good safety benchmark to have.

“This means that we will not cut corners on our interim aircraft acquisition programme.

“And when we discovered that the Q400s that had been previously selected were not to standard, we cancelled the arrangements and went back to market.

“I will not risk our operations with aircraft that cannot be relied upon to improve our position,” Seddon said in a statement.

Air Niugini is currently negotiating with aircraft vendors in North America and in the meantime has accelerated heavy maintenance programmes on its existing fleet.

Air Niugini said previously that due to its aging fleet, the airline struggled to operate more than 55 per cent of its aircraft (13 planes) on any given day. This is because there has been little investment in maintenance repair and overhaul of the fleet over the past decade, it said.