Bulolo MP Sam Basil (left) and Air Niugini CEO Wasantha Kumarasiri are welcomed off the inaugural Air Niugini Dash 8 flight to Bulolo by Watut dancers.-Picture by MALUM NALU
By MALUM NALU
The historical mining town of Bulolo, Morobe province, took another giant step forward today with the commencement of twice-weekly Air Niugini flights between Port Moresby and Bulolo.
The first batch of passengers on board the Dash 8 flight to Bulolo yesterday – led by Air Niugini CEO Wasantha Kumarasiri and Bulolo MP Sam Basil - was greeted by management and staff of PNG Forest Products, which owns the land on which the Bulolo Airport is built; Morobe Mining Joint Ventures; Bulolo administration; as well as hundreds of local people who braved pouring rain to be present for the occasion.
The Bulolo service, which will be every Monday and Friday, promises to greatly boost business and tourism in Bulolo, as well as the surrounding electorates of Menyamya, Huon, Markham and Lae.
Air Niugini's introduction of flights follows on from Airlines PNG in 2009.
"Bulolo is a very ideal destination with a high demand for air transportation from the local communities," Kumarasiri said.
"Due to the current activities in Bulolo, we consider it is our duty as the national airline to provide the air services to the local and business communities in Bulolo.
"Apart from the mining activities, there are also other operations and activities that certainly call for further air transportation.
"To name a few, we have the PNG Forest Products Ltd, BSP, Post PNG, Bulolo Forestry College, the Micro Bank, the district administration, which certainly demands for an increase in air transportation.
"As the national flag carrier, Air Niugini has a community service obligation to serve the people of Papua New Guinea.
"Therefore, Air Niugini's operation into Bulolo also means that the local people of Wau/Bulolo can now travel direct from Bulolo to Port Moresby instead of travelling via Lae."
Basil said history was rewriting itself as Bulolo was once one of the busiest airfields in the world during the gold rush days of the 1920s and 30s.
He said his joint district planning and budget priorities committee would commit K50, 000 subsidies for vegetable freight and return airfares.
"We would also look at building the staff quarters and ticket purchasing office for Air Niugini to be owned by the district administration, which will benefit from the rental proceedings," he said.
"I also call on Menyamya people, Wanpar people and people from my district to utilise this service because extra seats are now available.
"We do not have to drive all the way to Nadzab to catch a plane, as it is now at our doorstep."