AIRLINES PNG has welcomed the government decision to merge with Air Niugini, the national flag carrier, The National reports.
"APNG congratulates the PNG government for their vision in making this possible," the airline said in a statement.
"The merger will enable the combined airline, which will operate one of the largest fleet of aircraft in the South Pacific, to better cover an extensive range of international and domestic destinations, serving locations from Singapore right down to small villages in PNG."
Airlines PNG said it would work closely with the government and Air Niugini to develop the merger transaction.
A Merger Implementation Office, under the leadership of Sir Mekere Morauta, would establish the transaction structure and timeline for implementation.
The merger was expected to bring great opportunities to the people of PNG, with plans to extend aviation services into rural areas not presently well served.
Several attempts to get comments from Air Niugini were unsuccessful.
But Airlines PNG said a larger and stronger national carrier was expected to provide increased employment opportunities for PNG staff following the expansion of operations and the localisation of certain support services currently provided off shore.
The merger is subject to the approval of the APNG shareholders.
The airline was listed on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange early this year.
Last week, it reported a K700,000 profit for the first six months of this year – a commendable recovery from a K4.5-million loss last year.
The merger will make the new airline the biggest in the South Pacific as it will serve international destinations as well as rural areas in Papua New Guinea.
The airline said its board remained committed to maximising value for its shareholders and that would continue to be the central premise upon which the merger transaction would be evaluated.