Papua New Guinea’s Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) has authorised Air Niugini Limited to enter into a code-share agreement with Fiji Airways Limited on the Port Moresby to Nadi, Fiji, route via Honiara.
ICCC Commissioner and CEO, Paulus Ain said the code-share agreement with Fiji Airways is for a period of three years and is the first between the airlines.
“Currently, only Air Niugini is servicing the Port Moresby-Nadi route via Honiara. Therefore, the ICCC believes this code-share arrangement would provide an opportunity for another carrier in Fiji Airways to enter the market through partnering with Air Niugini and eventually grow its market share on the route and may enter into a more competitive form of code-share arrangement or enter the market as an independent carrier,” Ain said.
In its assessment of the public benefits this code-share is likely to generate, the ICCC highlighted that in the long run the arrangement will develop the route and make Port Moresby a transit hub for passengers from New Zealand, United States, Honiara, Fiji and other Pacific Island nations to Asia and vice versa.
This will increase traffic volume through Port Moresby and make it possible for more frequent services, and reduce passenger flight times to Asian destinations.
This outcome would also lead to cheaper fares in the long term as well as the possibility of Fiji Airways (and other Pacific carriers) to enter the PNG market independently.
ICCC noted that the ‘free sale’ code-share arrangement will not promote strong competition between the code-share partners.
Meanwhile, Air Niugini, has achieved its best ever ‘on time performance’ (OTP) over the last four weeks in May, chairman Sir Frederick Reiher has announced.
Sir Frederick said the average OTP for the month of May was 91 per cent, not just the best ever for Air Niugini, but higher than all airlines in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region.
“Even more impressive is the fact that Air Niugini has achieved 100 per cent OTP on 7 days in the same four weeks period,” Sir Frederick said.
“As chairman, and on behalf of the board, I am proud of this real milestone in the history of our national flag carrier,” Sir Frederick said.
“I give full credit to our management team, and all our employees, for delivering the best OTP outcome in our history.”
“Several months ago we experienced a series of issues, requiring the cancellation and amalgamation of some services, principally brought about by a shortage of pilots for our Fokker aircraft fleet in particular.”
“We were not alone in experiencing pilot shortages. Qantas, Virgin, and other airlines in our region experienced the same problem, and it continues to be a challenge for all airlines as the international demand for jet aircraft pilots remains very high,” Sir Frederick said.
“As a result of our own shortage, we took immediate steps to recruit and train more pilots, and make changes to our schedules without reducing the effectiveness of the service to the people of Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“This has been an outstanding effort by our whole team. The challenge now is to maintain it and that will be the focus of the board and management, and the airline’s 2,100 employees.”
Sir Frederick said that given the particular challenges with aircraft flying in Papua New Guinea – rugged terrain and remote areas that are served – an average OTP of 91 per cent is exceptional.
“I know our valued passengers appreciate the improved service we are offering across the nation. It is our commitment and determination to maintain and build on it!” Sir Frederick said.