The National, Tuesday October 29th, 2013
By PHILIP KEPSON
ENGA Governor Peter Ipatas’s plans to set up the province’s own airline may soon be realised.
His provincial government has finalised a tie-up with non-governmental organisation (NGO) groups to set up an airline to be called Miok Air.
Ipatas revealed this after the completion of a feasibility study by two senior aircraft pilots from Enga – Capt Mark Nea of Cathay Pacific Airlines and former Capt Tedd Paki of Emirates Airlines.
Ipatas said he had concluded negotiations with a local humanitarian organisation PNG Tribal Foundation to assist in setting up the company and carry out the project in partnership with specific NGO groups from the United States.
He said the main aim of the company, which would trade as Miok Air, would provide normal air services in the province and facilitate an aviation pilot training school out of Wapenamanda airport.
“The PNG Tribal Foundation would assist us in facilitating the company’s flight service and the pilot training programmes,” Ipatas said.
Foundation president Garry Bustin, who visited Enga last weekend to inspect the proposed site for construction of the airline office including the training facility, said he had established contacts with an aviation pilot training school at Letourneau University in Texas, USA, to carry out the programmes next year.
“The University of Letourneau would be part of the partnership arrangement with the foundation and Enga provincial government to implement the programmes,” he said.
Bustin said the foundation would also make arrangements for pilots from the US and other countries to undertake special high altitude flying experience training.
“Our main aim on any activity we carry out is to assist many Papua New Guineans who need our service on humanitarian grounds,” Bustin said.
Ipatas, who had tried with Airlines PNG and Air Niugini in the past to train more pilots from Enga through the Ipatas Foundation, said he would consider allocating funds in next year’s provincial budget for the programmes.