Air Niugini, the national airline of Papua New Guinea, announced on Tuesday that it had selected the Airbus A220 to renew its fleet, formed mainly by old Fokker 70 and 100, some with more than 30 years in service.
The carrier revealed plans to have eleven Airbus jets, including A220-100 and A220-300 models, which will join two Boeing 787 Dreamliner widebodies, which will be used on long-haul routes.
“The Airbus A220 can operate both domestic and international routes with more capacity. It burns 27 percent less fuel than the current fleet for the same sectors and has greater comfort and operating efficiency,” said Minister for State Enterprises, Hon William Duma.
According to him, the decision was approved by the National Executive Council, opening space for Air Niugini to continue with the negotiation process with Airbus.
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The aircraft, however, should only be delivered from 2025, which will mean that their old Fokker remain flying for a long time yet.
Dispute with the Embraer E2
Currently, Air Niugini’s fleet consists of 20 aircraft, including seven Fokker 100s, six Fokker 70s, two Boeing 767-300s, one Boeing 737-800 and four Dash 8 turboprops.
According to Planespotters, four of Fokker’s jets are grounded in addition to two Dash 8s.
The choice of the A220 took place in the midst of a great effort by Embraer to conquer a new customer in the region. In July 2019, the Brazilian planemaker sent an E190-E2 to the country’s capital, Port Moresby, to demonstrate it to Air Niugini executives.
In February it was the turn of the E195-E2 “Tech Lion” to visit the country, on its way to Australia.
Although they have a good range, the E2 jets lag behind the A220 in this respect, which may have influenced the decision since the airline operates in a region with many islands and relatively distant destinations.