AIR NIUGINI TRIMS PASSENGER LOAD

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Cites lack of fueling facilities along route

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 22, 2008) – Air Niugini says the lack of fuel refilling facilities and fuel suppliers’ slow quality check are two reasons the airline has reduced passenger numbers on its flights.

The national airline’s chief executive officer Wasantha Kumarasiri said yesterday Goroka, Gurney (Alotau), Popondetta, Kundiawa, Tari and Vanimo lack fuel refilling facilities resulting in the fuel suppliers not being able to supply fuel to aircraft.

Mr Kumarasiri said aircraft travelling between some of these destinations had been cutting down on the number of passengers and amounts of cargo they carry in order to uplift extra fuel to return to their originating destinations. While operations to and from many ports above have been running smoothly, the most affected ports have been Manus and Vanimo which are in the longer route category," he said.

"For an Air Niugini aircraft travelling between Port Moresby, Manus and Kavieng, the airline sacrifices up to 18 seats and minimises cargo in order to carry extra fuel as there is no presence of a fuel supplier at Manus airport. The aircraft has to carry extra fuel to ensure it completes its journey," he said.

The same is for an aircraft travelling between Port Moresby-Madang and Vanimo. Because of the lack of refilling facility at Vanimo airport, some seats have to be sacrificed in order for the aircraft to carry extra fuel from Madang and continue the journey to Vanimo and later direct to Port Moresby where it terminates the service.

Mr Kumarasiri said apart from the lack of fuel re-filling facilities, the fuel suppliers’ slowness in doing quality checks was another reason for the airline’s capacity reduction issue.

"Fuel quality check is a normal check that’s done by the supplier to ensure the fuel is free from contamination and takes some days to do the checks. There were instances where Air Niugini has to reduce capacity as there was no fuel due to the suppliers still doing the quality checks," Mr Kumarasiri said.

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