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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Nov. 1, 1999 – The National)---Air Niugini has sold a Dash 8 aircraft and cancelled the lease on its second Airbus as part of its cost-cutting program, managing director Andrew Ogil has announced.

Mr. Ogil said the initiatives were aimed at relieving the airline of its financial commitment so it can work towards profitable operations and refleeting.

He said the steps were also aimed at ensuring that the national carrier provides safe, efficient and profitable services.

Mr. Ogil said the Dash 8 plane was sold to the Quebec Government in Canada for K 22 million (US$ 8.272 million).

The aircraft, which left over the weekend, will be used in Canada by an air ambulance service organization.

He said the sale was concluded because of high interest rates here, and in preparation for eventual Air Niugini privatization.

Mr. Ogil said that details of long term Dash 8 replacement arrangements were currently being finalized and would be released before the end of the year.

He said the expensive US dollar denominated lease arrangements for the airline's second airbus would be terminated in April next year.

Mr. Ogil said that the refinancing would also enable the airline to identify a suitable aircraft to replace the F28 fleet.

He said representatives from several manufacturers had already made submissions to the airline's refleeting committee.

Mr. Ogil, who is visiting Paris and London to talk to international insurance companies, was pleased at the positive response he had received.

"The visit was necessary in view of recent developments in the aviation insurance market and the proposed fleet changes by Air Niugini," Mr. Ogil said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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