The National, Thursday October 17th, 2013
NATIONAL flag carrier Air Niugini will start its direct flights to Cairns, Australia, from Tokua Airport, in the New Guinea Islands region, this month.
Airline general manager commercial Dominic Kaumu said in Kokopo flights would begin on Oct 2.
From Rabaul the service will connect to Hoskins, in West New Britain.
That means people in the region no longer need to travel via Port Moresby.
Kaumu said the East New Britain provincial government had supported the flights with a tourism grant.
He urged the business community in the region, especially tour operators and hoteliers, to support the airline’s newest product to make it commercially viable.
“We have partnered with hoteliers in the province to try and develop packages so we can market it in Australia, where the backpackers market is very big. It is something we can tap into,” Kaumu said.
“It is not easy to provide a direct service.
“We have in the past received a lot of requests to provide direct service and the people of East New Britain are very lucky that we are testing the market now.”
Kaumu said the airline would buy another Fokker 100 aircraft to join the 31 operating domestically.
He said many people were familiar and comfortable with the F100 aircraft, which he described as the workhorse of domestic operations.
Air Niugini has in its fleet, three Boeing 767s and three Boeing 737 s.