Air Niugini to commencing operations to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) – Is it a good move?

The opportunity to get them in the country is a starting point to get them curious about the possibility of exploring it further.

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Papua New Guinea’s  national carrier, Air Niugini, recently announced that it will commence operations to the Federated State of Micronesia later this year. Hang on! Federated State of Micronesia?  Why is this country of interest to Air Niugini, let alone the Papua New Guinea travelling public, you might ask?

A social media user on reading the Air Niugini media release asked how many Papua New Guineans would be travelling to FSM?  What’s there to do in FSM another asked? And another queried whether this was “politically” motivated.

Without being privy to the boardroom information on what led Air Niugini to give FSM a tick on the destination list, the move based on our own findings is a strategic one – and a good one too.

According to statistics obtained from the Division of Immigration and Labor, FSM Department of Justice, annual International and Interstate Visitor Arrivals of Non-FSM Citizens averaged around 45,000 per yer between 2008 to 2013.  We couldn’t find more recent figures but presumably that figure has remained consistent since then.  This figure isn’t such a bad figure when you compare it with Papua New Guinea (which is around 200,000 for 2015) taking into account the significant difference in land mass and population.

The same source also confirmed that 30% of visitors to FSM where mainly there for holiday/tourism purposes while 12% of arrivals were there for business.

USA, Europe and Japan make up close to 45% of tourism/visitor arrivals.

From the Oceania region and in particular Australia and New Zealand, tourism arrivals make about 35% of the total arrivals in FSM.

Here’s what’s interesting about the current status of flights from PNG’s main markets to FSM – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Philippines and other Asian countries.

To get to FSM (Pohnpei or Chuuk State) all flights from the place of departure to the intended destination have to go via Guam.  There is no other way.  While the Asian countries like Philippines and  Tokyo might just take over 11 hours of travel, those in the Oceania region, in particular, Australia and New Zealand will travel over 20 hours.  You can see the tables below on how long it will take from 3 of Australia’s main airports (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) to FSM.

The expected travelling hours from Port Moresby to Pohnpei are as follows:

POM – Pohnphei: 2hours 55mins (similar timing for POMBNE flights)

POM – Chuuk:2 hours 35mins

For the flight between Pohnphei and Chuuk: 1hour 5mins

As you can see from the tables below and the flight duration from POM, Australia and New Zealand visitors will not only significantly reduce their traveling hours to FSM, there are less stops.  Like Guam, Port Moresby is expected to be the main stopover for flights originating from Asia and Australia/New Zealand.

And if you have been following Air Niugini’s progress, you will note that the national carrier has opened up direct flights from Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore and more recently Japan.  With these direct routes being established, there is a potential opportunity for travelers from these regions to travel to Pohnpei via Port Moresby.  The same can be said of Australia/New Zealand.

It’s unlikely that this new route to FSM is aimed at the average Papua New Guinean traveler but nonetheless provides an option for them should they decide to opt for something “different” than the usual Australian holiday.

The move does create an opportunity for more arrivals in Papua New Guinea even for a short while.

The opportunity to get them in the country is a starting point to get them curious about the possibility of exploring it further.

Sydney, Australia (SYD) to Pohnpei, Micronesia (PNI)
23h 53m duration, 3+ stops

23h 55m+ Qantas, United via Manila, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 1h+ China Eastern, United via Shanghai, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 2h+ Air China, United via Shanghai, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 2h+ Philippine, United via Manila, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 3h+ Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, United via Hong Kong, Taipei, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 3h+ ANA, United via Tokyo, Osaka, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 3h+ Asiana, United via Seoul, Saipan, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 3h+ Qantas, JAL, United via Tokyo, Nagoya, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 4h+ Korean Air, United via Seoul, Guam, Chuuk State

Sydney, Australia (SYD) to Chuuk State, Micronesia (TKK)
21h 58m duration, 2+ stops

22h 0m+ Qantas, United via Manila, Guam
23h 10m+ China Eastern, United via Shanghai, Guam
23h 40m+ Philippine, United via Manila, Guam
23h 50m+ Air China, United via Shanghai, Guam
1d 1h+ Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, United via Hong Kong, Taipei, Guam
1d 1h+ ANA, United via Tokyo, Osaka, Guam
1d 1h+ Asiana, United via Seoul, Shanghai, Guam
1d 1h+ Qantas, JAL, United via Tokyo, Nagoya, Guam
1d 2h+ Korean Air, United via Seoul, Guam

Brisbane, Australia (BNE) to Chuuk State, Micronesia (TKK)
22h 8m duration, 2+ stops

22h 10m+ Philippine, United via Darwin, Manila, Guam
23h 25m+ Qantas, United via Tokyo, Guam
1d 2h+ Korean Air, Asiana, United via Seoul, Saipan, Guam
1d 2h+ Korean Air, United via Seoul, Guam
1d 7h+ Singapore Airlines, Philippine, United via Singapore, Manila, Guam

Brisbane, Australia (BNE) to Pohnpei, Micronesia (PNI)
15h 20m duration, 3+ stops

15h 20m+ Our Airline via Nauru, Bairiki, Majuro, Kosrae
1d 0h+ Philippine, United via Darwin, Manila, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 1h+ Qantas, United via Tokyo, Guam, Chuuk State

Melbourne, Australia (MEL) to Pohnpei, Micronesia (PNI)
23h 43m duration, 3+ stops

23h 45m+ Qantas, Philippine, United via Darwin, Manila, Guam, Chuuk State
23h 50m+ Royal Brunei, United via Bandar Seri Begawan, Manila, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 1h+ Air China, United via Shanghai, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 1h+ China Eastern, United via Shanghai, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 4h+ Cathay Pacific, United via Hong Kong, Manila, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 5h+ Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, United via Hong Kong, Taipei, Guam, Chu

Melbourne, Australia (MEL) to Chuuk State, Micronesia (TKK)
21h 48m duration, 2+ stops

21h 50m+ Qantas, Philippine, United via Darwin, Manila, Guam
21h 55m+ Royal Brunei, United via Bandar Seri Begawan, Manila, Guam
23h 10m+ China Eastern, United via Shanghai, Guam
23h 35m+ Air China, United via Shanghai, Guam
1d 2h+ Cathay Pacific, United via Hong Kong, Manila, Guam
1d 3h+ Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, United via Hong Kong, Taipei, Guam
1d 3h+ Singapore Airlines, United via Singapore, Fukuoka, Guam

Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) to Pohnpei, Micronesia (PNI)
1d 5h duration, 3+ stops

1d 5h+ Qantas, Philippine, United via Sydney, Manila, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 5h+ Qantas, United via Sydney, Manila, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 7h+ LAN, Qantas, United via Sydney, Manila, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 7h+ Air New Zealand, Philippine, United via Sydney, Manila, Guam, Chuuk State
1d 15h+ Hawaiian, United via Honolulu, Majuro, Kwajalein A

Tokyo, Japan (all airports) to Pohnpei, Micronesia (PNI)
11h 48m duration, 2+ stops

11h 50m+
United
via Guam, Chuuk State
12h 20m+
Delta, United
via Saipan, Guam, Chuuk State
14h 20m+
ANA, United
via Fukuoka, Guam, Chuuk State
14h 25m+
JAL, United
via Fukuoka, Guam, Chuuk State

Manila, Philippines (MNL) to Pohnpei, Micronesia (PNI)
11h 35m duration, 2+ stops

11h 35m+
United
via Guam, Chuuk State
19h 5m+
Philippine, Korean Air, United
via Busan, Guam, Chuuk State

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