Airlines PNG – Airlines of Papua New Guinea Limited is a regional carrier that operates contract corporate charter work, as well as scheduled domestic and international flights. Its main base is Jacksons International Airport. Its headquarters is set in Port Moresby, but there is also support staff in Australia (Cairns and Brisbane).
Back in 1987, the airline was founded as Milne Bay Air (MBA) by John Wild. Airlines PNG was awarded a major charter contract by Chevron Niugini Limited that launched the airline into the realm of professional corporate charters for the resource sector, which today accounts for over 40% of revenue.
In September 1992, the airline obtained an RPT (Regular Public Transport) licence. Since then, Airlines PNG has built up an extensive fleet of aircraft and a network of aviation services that caters for both the charter and RPT markets. Airlines PNG continued to operate seven days a week charter services for medivac, work crew positioning and part transport on top of its regular scheduled passenger services.
In 1993, the company was renamed MBA Airlines of Papua New Guinea Ltd. and took over part of the route network abandoned upon the failure ofTalair (Tourist Airlines of Niugini).
In March 1997, the company received its airline licence and, in April 2001, was renamed Airlines of Papua New Guinea Ltd. – Airlines PNG.
In August 2006, Airlines PNG introduced twice-weekly service between Brisbane and Port Moresby using a leased OzJet aircraft.
In June 2008, Airlines PNG became a public company when it floated on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange. Since listing, the company has been governed by a seasoned Board of Directors.
In June 2011, Airlines PNG first started commercial operations into the New Guinea Islands, linkingLae with Kimbe and Kokopo.
In 2012, Muralee Siva became CEO of Airlines PNG, replacing Geoff Toomey. Siva’s appointment underlined the shift within the airline from being groomed for a merger with Air Niugini to being a viable competitor to the national carrier.
In 2013, Airlines PNG expanded its fleet with two Dash 8 aircraft that provided the airline with the additional capacity needed to support the network expansion into the Madang, Wewak andLae to Popondetta routes. After ending a codeshare agreement with Virgin Australia on the Port Moresby-to-Brisbane route, the airline started to concentrate on improving its domestic services.
In February 2014, Airlines PNG took delivery of another Dash 8 aircraft which brings the total fleet up to 14 aircraft. With the additional aircraft, the airline was able to expand its network and start services to Buka and Kavieng.
In December 2014, Airlines PNG signed a contract to acquire 6 ATR 72-600 aircraft. The first new aircraft is expected to be delivered in September 2015. Airlines PNG will be the launch customer for the new Combi version of the ATR 72-600 turboprop, which will feature a mixed cabin capable of handling 44 passengers and up to 19m³ of cargo.
In November 2015, along with the addition of the first ATR 72 600 aircraft to the fleet, Airlines PNG rebranded as PNG Air. The new aircraft and a new brand are major steps forward for the airline that aims to be the first choice regional airline for the people of Papua New Guinea.
In December 2016, PNG Air announced the outcomes of its first year of operation after launching the new airline: 5 brand new ATRs, a new livery and significantly upgrades to product and services: new flights to Aropa, Buka, and Vanimo, new sales outlets in Port Moresby and Lae, Online check-in service, SMS notification for flight disrupts, and a Tok Pisin website.
In 2017, PNG Air has taken delivery of their 7th ATR 72 600 aircraft, thus positioning as the operator of the youngest fleet in Papua New Guinea.
In September 2018, IASC (Australia‘s International Air Services Commission) issued a determination allocating to Virgin Australia 900 weekly seats in each direction for services to Papua New Guinea. The capacity may be used for the provision of codeshare services between Virgin Australia and PNG Air. A final copy of a free-sale codeshare agreement with PNG Air was released by Virgin Australia.
From 1992 to 2010, Airlines PNG’s Britten-Norman Islander and Twin Otter aircraft were involved in 6 fatal accidents causing the death of 55 people. The first fatal accident involving a Dash 8 aircraft and the last in the airline’s history occurred on October 13, 2011 when flight CG1600 from Lae to Madang, crashed about 20 km south of Madang and caught fire, killing 28 people of the 32 aboard. The crash led to the voluntary grounding of the airline’s Dash 8s – the bulk of its fleet – for six weeks.