PORT MORESBY, (POST COURIER) – PNG Air’s new aircraft, the ATR 72-600, has made its first test trips to most main ports since its arrival in Papua New Guinea last week.
The new aircraft, which is scheduled to be operational on November 16, is the first of six to arrive.
“It is the bigger version of the old Dash-8 except it has a good number of advantages such as 72 passengers seats, latest innovations in the cockpit technology with simplified, integrated LCD advanced functions, enhancing safety, improved handling for two-pilot crew, in addition to maintenance cost savings and weight reduction.
“ATR 72-600 will replace all the Dash-8 aircraft owned by PNG Air as the aircraft are proven in tough conditions and capable of serving the vast majority of PNG ports,” said PNG Air chief commercial officer Paul Abbot.
Abbot said the new aircraft will make 36 flights to all the main ports during its commercial trips. He said the ATR 73-600’s new features include big comfortable space and speed, and tickets can be bought at the standard rates like Dash-8 aircraft’s fares.
“By 2020, our target is to get 12 more ATR 72-600 aircraft so that we can get rid of all the Dash-8s.
“Each ATR 72-600 aircraft cost US$20 million but performs flexibly well in short trips,” Abbot said.
The aircraft has in Morobe Province, Madang and Gurney in Milne Bay since its arrival last week.
The journey beginning its course in 2011 completed its lag last Friday coinciding with the 12th Kenu and Kundu festival in Alotau.
Air Niugini’s Fokker 70 took the direct flight from Brisbane into Gurney airport in Milne Bay’s capital, trying out this route which will open next year in October.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was at the airport to welcome the historic flight and congratulated the efforts of those making it a success.
“I know we made a hard decision despite the commercial realities of such direct flights coming through.
“It is only the beginning, and I know that we are going to continue to build on that foundation that we have laid,” he said later.
This link gives direct access to the Australian and New Zealand markets and means a boost in the industry from which the province is already benefiting.