The first ever international airline to operate flights to Cairns is being lauded for its successes as it reaches a major milestone.
Key industry figures will gather at Cairns Airport this morning to commemorate the 50th birthday of stalwart operator Air Niugini, which began flying in 1973.
Cairns Airport Chief Operating Officer Garry Porter said Air Niugini’s decades of service had immeasurably improved travel and trade connections across Tropical North Queensland and beyond.
“Air Niugini continues to be one of Cairns Airport’s most integral partners and we are thrilled to be celebrating this achievement with them,” he said.
“The connectivity provided by Air Niugini has led to significant tourism and business opportunities that would not otherwise be viable, and its international network plays a crucial and valuable role in the transport of cargo across Australia and overseas.”
Air Niugini commenced operations on November 1, 1973, carrying 350,000 passengers in its first year, a figure that significantly surpassed expectations.
On September 17, 1975, Air Niugini became the first international airline to operate flights to Cairns Airport, when a Fokker Fellowship F28 flight took off from Port Moresby.
Today, Air Niugini has 1700 employees and services 10 international destinations around Australia, Asia and the Pacific, as well as 23 domestic routes.
Air Niugini Chief Commercial Officer David Glover said the airline would only continue to grow.
“We are acquiring 13 brand-new aircraft, including 11 Airbus A220 and two Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The first A220 is due to arrive in 2025, followed by the Dreamliners in 2026,” he said.
“These state-of-the-art aircraft will provide a more comfortable journey for our passengers and enable Air Niugini to expand our routes and connect Papua New Guinea to even more destinations globally.”
“Air Niugini is more than just a national airline; it is a symbol of Papua New Guinea’s progress. Air Niugini has provided a massive boost to trade and tourism over the years and helped to bring communities together.”
The airline is named after the Tok Pisin word Niugini, which translates into New Guinea