“This one is for you” as pen was put to paper with the country purchasing six new Airbus A220 aircraft costing in total K1.11 billion (US$300 million) which forms part of the fleet replacement programme for Air Niugini.
The six airplanes are from a fleet of 11 to be purchased while the other five will be leased. Each Airbus is worth US$41 million.
And while these fleets are making their way to PNG, two years from now, Air Niugini has assured the travelling public that the airline services nationwide will ensure that all travellers will be taken care of.
Further, the Government will also ensure that peak periods between now and 2025 will be maintained with passengers nationwide and internationally are well taken care of.
Air Niugini Acting Chief Executive, Gary Seddon said; “This is for the boy standing on the other side of the fence looking in wondering if he will get on that plane, this is for you the passengers, the families, the workers from the maintenance crew to the pilots, to the office workers who work behind the scenes bringing Air Niugini to continue to provide air travel to PNG, this one is for you.”
Minister for State Owned Enterprise William Duma said; “The first Airbus A220 will join Air Niugini in 2025 coinciding with the country’s 50 years of Independence celebration, this really is the game changing plane for the country.”
For half a century Air Niugini has continued to be “the people’s plane”.
A symbol of unity, the flag carrier for 50 years has brought families, friends, colleagues and organisations together as it marked the beginning of air travel in PNG.
And on November 01, 1973, the first flight took to the skies when flight PX100 left Port Moresby enroute to Lae, Morobe province, Rabaul, East New Britain and Kieta, Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Seddon said; “On 19 September 1972 then chief minister of PNG Sir Michael Somare said a “single national airline with PNG government involvement would be best for PNG”
“The national flag carrier in a field of civil aviation would be a symbol of unity. It is the source of national pride,” he said.
He further stated; “It has not been easy, and I would like to think we meet each challenge with fortitude and diligence, at the end of every day we know we did our very best.”
The eleven new A220 jets will replace Air Niugini’s existing fleet of Fokker 100/70s and Boeing 737s on domestic and regional international routes from 2025.
The Acting CEO said; “This is a milestone in the history of our national airline. The A220 brings with it the latest technology, fuel efficiency, and the most comfortable passenger cabin in its class, and will transform the way the nation flies. The A220s will primarily service our domestic routes, but also have the flexibility to operate new regional international routes of up to 7 hours’ duration, which will support the growth of trade and tourism for Papua New Guinea.”
Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer and head of international, said: “Air Niugini has seen how much more the A220 brings to their airline than the competing product in this space, so much more efficiency, range, comfort and growth potential.”
Air Niugini also announced that it has selected a flight planning support system from Airbus subsidiary NAVBLUE for its fleet. Called N-Flight Planning (N-FP), the solution will help the airline optimise on fuel, time and cost to meet operational needs, while ensuring overall safety and compliance.
As at the end of September, Airbus has received over 800 orders from around 30 customers for the A220, of which more than 280 have been delivered. The A220 is already in successful service with 17 airlines worldwide.