This week Cairns Airport will take a special trip down memory lane as it pays tribute to aviation stalwart Air Niugini celebrating 45 years of continuous service to the region.
On September 17 1975 a Fokker 27 flight took off from Port Moresby and a newly independent Papua New Guinea for Cairns Airport, in what was to become an enduring partnership. Today the airline flies Boeing 767’s to Cairns and prior to COVID operated 11 services per week between Cairns and Port Moresby.
Air Niugini’s unbroken record of nonstop service gives the airline the distinction of being the region’s longest serving international carrier.
Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Norris Carter said Air Niugini had been instrumental in pioneering the growth of international aviation from Cairns Airport and the airline provided a vital foundation from which much of the business, investment and social connection between the two regions has been built.
“Four and half decades is an impressive record of uninterrupted service connecting Cairns with Port Moresby and beyond and it’s an outstanding achievement. This cooperation and commitment from Air Niugini has been important not only to the airport but to the local economy and most recently a crucial part of our trade story.”
Prior to COVID Air Niugini was connecting 50,000 passengers a year travelled between from Cairns and Port Moresby and has continued to operate a weekly service through the pandemic.
Air Niugini took over the freight service to Hong Kong last year through a partnership with Cairns Airport and the Queensland Government. The new one stop connection to Hong Kong provides a vital link for the region’s exporters.
“Air Nuigini was instrumental in delivering a seamless transition of freight services from the Far North to Asian markets last year when that opportunity arose. Their ability to identify opportunities and expand their aviation footprint has been a terrific win for our region,” Mr Carter said.
Australian Airport Regional Manager for Air Niugini Maree Keygan said the airline had always had a daily service to Cairns pre COVID and that the partnership with Cairns Airport had been a strategic one that stood the test of time.
“1.5 million passengers have travelled on the service between Cairns and Port Moresby over the last 45 years and that’s the level of service we’re determined to resume as soon as possible.”