Image: PNG Air’s Facebook Page
A number of possible ports for air services have been identified by PNG Air as part of its ongoing route development program.
PNG Air’s route development program is an initiative by the airline company to boost local economies by providing air services in those selected locations.
A potential location for an air service port which has been eyed by the airline company includes Esa’ala in the Milne Bay province.
Currently, the only method of transportation for the carriage of goods or travel to the island is by boat, however with the rough weather and the rise in sea piracy there is very real safety issues.
The number of lives lost in the region due to boating accidents is a very real source of concern to Milne Bay Local Government officials and thus the need for alternative transportation could not come at a better time.
The opening up of air services will reduce the reliance on marine vessels and consequently provide a safer alternative for people on the island.
PNG Air operated a Dash 8 service to the District’s airstrip on Thursday, March 23, where a small crowd of islanders had been waiting to greet those aboard the aircraft.
PNG Air CEO, Muralee Siva said, “Esa’ala is a great example where population base, economic development programmes and tourism all combine to create overwhelming support for the re-instatement of aviation services”.
“We were very pleased that with the support of the Minister for Civil Aviation and NAC that we were able to conduct a development flight to the island to assess the work done on the strip prior to full commercial use,” he added.
According to PNG Air’s CEO, Work on the Island’s airstrip has been done to ensure that it is complies with the required safety and operational requirements.
Additionally, support from the Civil Aviation Minister and assessment work done by NAC ensures that commercial services will commence shortly.
Minister for Civil Aviation, Hon. Davies Steven, who was present during the aircraft’s landing, is optimistic about developing the tourism sector particularly for the district and the province.
“I am also prepared to write an exclusive agreement for only this operator to come here, because then it gives them an incentive, and together we can develop mainstream businesses such as Tourism. So we are working on the potential development areas that the island has to offer that will provide long term sustainable opportunities for the people here,” he said.