Airline helping farmers transport produce

People in Karamui, Chimbu, loading bags of coffee and cocoa into the North Coast Aviation aircraft. – Picture courtesy of Henry Nilkare

THE North Coast Aviation in Chimbu and Eastern Highlands has flown out 500 tonnes of cocoa and coffee from the remote Karamui area in 500 trips since it started operating over a year ago.
The airline transported the produce as backload from the remote area after flying in trade store goods, building supplies and medical and school supplies, according to the airline pilot Captain Henry Nilkare.
The farmers earned income from their produce but much of the money goes to meet the freight costs, a fixed charter cost is K4,300 into Karamui and nearby airstrips from Kundiawa and from Goroka is K5,500-K5,900.
“The further the distance, the higher the cost,” Nilkare said.
“It’s incurred by minutes.
“Farmers’ produce is left rotting not only in Karamui but in similar rural locations due to high freight cost and no road access,” Nilkare said.
He said there was also high demand for garden produce such as peanuts from Karamui because of difficulties in affording freight costs.
“These produce is also rotting away in the bush.
“There is a need for compulsory subsidy for all airlines, other airlines who are not paying tax to Government are given compulsory subsidy which is unfair competing against them as we pay taxes and passing cost to farmers.
“At least they can realise what we are doing as third-level airline to subsidise freight costs.”