Airline to increase fares, freight excess and baggage rate


Morobe-based third-level airline North Coast Aviation (NCA) Ltd will increase its airfares, freight excess and baggage rates as of Feb 1, says chief executive officer Geoff Thiele.
NCA currently serves 28 rural airstrips in Morobe and four in Gulf.
Thiele said the last increase was in 2016 with a steep increase in aircraft direct operating costs since.
“It is obvious that costs of all goods and services in PNG have increased,” he said.
“The main challenge this company has been facing over the years is the cost of modernising and maintaining the fleet of aircraft, the weather and geographical terrain in the country, and also the financial cost of doing business in PNG.
“I hope there will not be any more increases this year.
“The increase will not affect the rural cash economy because the backload rates of K3 remain the same, which is about half the forward load freight rate.”
Thiele said there was no provincial government or district subsidies to help support the rural population.
“Despite making proposals to districts and provincial government, there is no subsidy for this year as yet.
“I think the government should support air services for the sake of the rural populace through a subsidy, to guarantee a service into all serviceable airstrips, and also through goods and services tax (GST) exemption – the same as in the mining industry.”
Thiele said for Baindoang airstrip in Nawaeb and Lablab airstrip in Tewai-Siassi, “we offer charter only because there is no demand for regular passenger travel and no economic base to support an air service”.
“The districts that will need more air services are Kabwum and Finschhafen,” he said.
Thiele says NCA had two airplanes for now with a third to be brought in by the end of March.
He said in the past, back in the days of Talair, revenue that flowed to rural areas was because of public servants.
“District administration officers, police, health workers, teachers and agricultural extension officers travelled and lived in rural places, unlike today.”