Papua New Guinea flag carrier Air Niugini resumed commercial flights into Daru, Western province, on Thursday (June 21) for the first time in 12 years, The National reports.
This promises to be a massive boost to business, tourism and other economic activities on the South Fly island.
Despite a light downpour, a big crowd gathered at the airport to welcome the arrival of the first Air Niugini commercial flight, a Dash 8- Q315.
|Kiwai dancers welcome the inaugural Air Niugini flight to Daru on Thursday.-Nationalpic by GYNNIE KERO|
An Air Niugini Q400 did land on Daru on June 1, however, that was a PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) charter.
The last Air Niugini flight to Daru was on March 4, 2000, after which it had to stop services because of the unsafe state of the runway.
Air Niugini is able to resume flights because of a K40 million airport upgrade funded 50-50 by PNGSDP and the Fly River provincial government, with construction undertaken by Global Construction and supervised by The National Airports Corporation.
Airlines PNG has had a virtual monopoly of the Daru-Port Moresby route over the last 12 years, with its airfares of K999 one-way among the highest in the country.
Air Niugini’s low est fare on that route is K352.20.
Air Niugini chief executive Wasantha Kumarasiri apologised to the people of Daru and Western province for the inconvenience of the past 12 years, But, he said the airlines could not compromise the safety of its passengers.
He said Air Niugini could not service the township of Daru for many years due to poor airport infrastructure that was not up to standard.
“Flights into Daru were suspended because infrastructure did not meet airport regulations. Air Niugini looks after its customer in the name of safety.”
Flights in and out of Daru are scheduled twice every week, Thursdays and Sundays.