Air Niugini will commence twice weekly air services between Port Moresby and the Federated States of Micronesia from December 3, 2016.
To test the market, three special flights have been planned to operate to the Federated States of Micronesia before the scheduled passenger services commence.
The first of the three special flights operated on September 1, from Port Moresby to Chuuk and later Pohnpei before returning to Port Moresby. It took two hours and forty minutes to reach Chuuk and an hour across to Pohnpei.
Most passengers on board the flight were Australian divers; about 50 of them who got off in Chuuk, the rest were individuals attending the Pacific Islands Forum and businessmen based in Solomon Islands. The second special flight was operated on September 7, to uplift a delegation for the Pacific Islands Forum.
Once the scheduled passenger service comes into effect from December, Air Niugini will be operating two return air services a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from Port Moresby to Chuuk and Pohnpei. This also means, Air Niugini will be able to carry domestic passengers twice weekly between Pohnpei and Chuuk.
The establishment of these new direct commercial flights is a result of an Air Services Agreement between the Governments of Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia.
The direct service to the Federated States of Micronesia represents a major expansion of Air Niugini’s presence in the Pacific region, and especially the role of Jacksons International Airport as a major “hub” for the Pacific region. These flights enable passengers between the Pacific, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines and FSM to connect through Port Moresby, saving considerable time and airfares.
The extensive upgrading of Jacksons international terminal by the National Government has been a major factor in enabling Air Niugini to expand the airline’s regional international services. The arrival and departure, and transit facilities at the international terminal are now world standard and fully capable of handling a significant increase in passenger numbers.
Air Nuigini will work closely with the the Federated States of Micronesia government and the tourism industry to promote the growing tourist opportunities that both states offer, including “stopover” and two-centre opportunities for visitors to experience both countries.
Another major factor enabling the establishment of direct regular services to FSM has been the successful introduction of the Fokker 70 aircraft into Air Niugini’s fleet as a central component of the K700 million fleet upgrading and replacement program.
The F70 aircraft is well suited to servicing regional routes, such as this new route, because of fuel efficiency, a longer flight range, a capability to cruise at higher levels, and a passenger capacity that is more suitable to meet the passenger demand.