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By Markus Mardius

TIMIKA, Papua, Indonesia (May2, 2002 – Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---Moses Kilangin airport in Timika township in easternmost Papua province were expected to witness the inauguration of the province's first airline on Thursday.

Carstensz Papua Airlines (CPA) will fly four 737-200 Boeings serving the Jakarta-Manado-Biak-Timika and Jakarta-Makassar-Timika-Merauke-Jayapura routes.

"The airline will become a pioneer in serving passengers in rural areas. So far, transportation has been a problem for Papuans and migrant residents as well," Carstensz Papua Airlines branch manager M. Tomo told The Jakarta Post at his office here over the weekend.

The airline is a joint venture between the Papua provincial government and Aser Madjar, a businessman who hails from Papua.

Not only the Papuan people but also the migrant settlers are delighted at the prospect, Tomo said, adding that air transportation would be a boon to people who were used to river transportation.

"The routes may change depending on the situation and needs," said Tomo.

However, he remained coy when asked about ticket prices, merely saying they would have a competitive edge over those of Garuda and Merpati.

He added that the airline would be 70 percent staffed by Papuans.

"More than 150 Papuans have applied for various vacancies in our company," he said.

Selpianus Dogopia, a Timika resident, said she was delighted at the prospect of having an airline based in the province.

"I always take a boat to Timika and it takes many days. Now Carstensz will make our lives a bit easier. We will be able to reach our hometowns faster," said Selpianus Dogopia, a Timika resident.

Flying by plane is still something to be proud of for anybody in Papua, she said, adding that most Papuans were only used to flying in six-seater planes such as the Cessnas and Tiganas belonging to Christian missionary groups.

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