By MARK HAIHUIE
A LADY holding leis (traditional garlands) greeted passengers on Air Niugini’s inaugural flight to the Federated State of Micronesia at the Chuuk airport last week – as the two nations sealed a deal to have regular commercial flights.
The flight from Port Moresby took more than two hours to Chuuk, and then onto Pohnpei in FSM.
Air Niugini plans to operate two return flights a week from Port Moresby to Pohnpei and Chuuk starting in December.
Air Niugini chief executive officer Simon Foo said the two countries had signed an air services agreement.
Air Niugini and the Government of FSM will also be sharing the financial costs associated with establishing the services.
Air Niugini will start initially with three special flights to Chuuk and Pohnpei, Foo said.
FSM President Peter Christian yesterday formally approved the start of Air Niugini’s bi-weekly commercial air services by issuing a foreign air carrier permit to the Air Niugini management in Pomphei.
Foo said the flights would enable passengers from Pacific island nations, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines and FSM to connect through Port Moresby, “saving them considerable time and opening the possibility of stop-over tourism in PNG”.
“The direct PNG to FSM flights will also foster closer trade links between industries, including fishing and tourism,” Foo said.
The Federated States of Micronesia is located in the north-western Pacific and is made up of more than 600 islands. Chuuk and Pohnpei are the two most populated states.
By MARK HAIHUIE