By Adelaide Sirox Kari – EMTV News, Port Moresby
Air Niugini has launched its first direct flight between Narita, Japan and Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia on Saturday the 01st of September.
Sixty passenger’s mostly Japanese tourists boarded the first flight out of Narita destined for Chuuk on Saturday night and arriving on Sunday morning.
Air Niugini General Manager for Commercial Services, Dominic Kaumu, who officiated the departure ceremony at Narita Airport said the inclusion of Japan/Chuuk route was a strategic move, as it provides an opportunity not only for Japanese divers and visitors but also for those in Europe and North America to travel to the region.
On arrival in Chuuk, a further 60 passengers, comprising a large number of divers joined the flight to Port Moresby.
Mr. Kaumu said the service also compliments the regional network including Honiara in the Solomon Islands, Nadi in Fiji and Port Vila in Vanuatu, as well as destinations in Australia.
The flight is expected to provide convenience for the Japanese divers, tourists and even business people from both Japan and FSM to fly direct, instead of traveling via Guam.
Air Niugini’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tahawar Durrani said the concept reinforces Air Niugini’s position as a carrier of choice, connecting Asia with the Pacific Islands and further enhances Port Moresby as the gateway hub in the region.
The route is also expected to complement Air Niugini already existing route of Pohnpei to Chuuk to Port Moresby.
The air services agreement to formalize this arrangement was signed between the Prime Ministers of Japan, FSM, and PNG, during the 08th Pacific Alliance Leaders Meeting (PALM) in Japan on May, this year. The agreement gives Air Niugini the right to uplift passengers between Narita and Chuuk on the way to and from Port Moresby.