Air Niugini resumes flights to Tari

National, Normal

AIR Niugini has resumed flights into Tari Airport after the national government promised to address compensation grievances by the local Huli landowners.
Tari-Pori MP and Education Minister James Marape flew into Tari and landed at the airport on Sunday on an Air Niugini Dash 8 aircraft, and addressed the villagers.
Air Niugini, in a short statement, advised the travelling public that the airline had resumed operations to Tari Airport, Southern Highlands, effective yesterday.
“The decision to resume services is made after receiving assurance from the National Airports Corporation that it is safe to operate into Tari,” Air Niugini said.
The airline had suspended operations to Tari since last Monday in compliance with a notice issued by the corporation after angry villagers, demanding compensation, shut down the airport.
Marape led a team of officials from NAC and Southern Highlands provincial administration to negotiate reopening the airport.
More than 200 landowners led by Benson Angobe, Jacob Handaja, Luke Luje and Thomas Mindipi met with the
government team.
Marape had earlier warned the villagers that the Tari Airport land was state land that was already paid for in the 1950s.
But the villagers said they had records to prove that they were not paid for the land on which the airport was built.
Marape assured them that a proper social mapping and land identification study would be conducted to identify legitimate landowners who would benefit from developments linked to the LNG project taking place in Tari.
He said Tari would be developed to an international airport in partnership with the provincial government, Hela Transitional Authority, NAC and the landowners.