The flagship airline of Papua New Guinea, Air Niugini has again expressed its opinion about an urgent modernization of its fleet.
According to statements by the company’s CEO, Bruce Alabaster, two aircraft are being studied to replace the old Fokker 100 and 70 in service today, the Airbus A220 and the Embraer E2. It’s not the first time Air Niugini has cited the two competitors, who have four 737 MAX jets pending delivery for a long time.
In addition to replacing the Fokkers, Air Niugini intends to lease two A330-200s to replace the Boeing 767-300s.
Air Niugini currently operates between 11 and 13 Dutch jets, in addition to a single Boeing 737-800, two Boeing 767 and four Dash 8 turboprops. Alabaster’s intention is to have at least three new jets by the end of next year, to start renewing the fleet, which has an average age of almost 26 years.
The company’s situation is complicated since times when it lost two planes in unusual situations. In September 2018, a 737-800 ended up sinking in a lake near Chuuk Airport after an unsuccessful landing. One occupant died while six other passengers were seriously injured.
Months earlier, regional airline Link PNG, owned by Air Niugini, had a Dash 8-200 turboprop set on fire by protesters who stormed the runway at Mendi airport in the Southern Highlands province to protest against the government.
Part of the Commonwealth of Nations
Air Niugini was founded in 1973 by the country’s government in association with Australian airlines such as Qantas and Ansett. Located in Oceania, north of Australia, Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern part of the island of New Guinea (the western part belongs to Indonesia).
The country, of 463 thousand km², has a population of about 9 million inhabitants and is part of the Commonwealth of Nations linked to the United Kingdom, recognizing King Charles III as sovereign.