PNG Aviation Safety Dependent Upon Modernization Program

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Air Services Ltd CEO warns government that funding is critical

By Beatrice Bonakoya

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 4, 2015) – The Air Services Limited has warned the Government that aviation safety in the country will be compromised if a modernisation programme to upgrade its facilities is not completed.

Chief executive officer Captain Ted Pakii told The National that the company needed Government funding to upgrade aviation safety facilities, a project Australia had been funding since 2010.

"PNG will not be able to meet the expectations of world leaders wishing to attend the APEC summit in 2018 in terms of airspace management," he said.

"If this happens, the very success of staging the APEC summit will be compromised as world leaders will think twice about flying in and out of an airspace that is not fully automated and modernised," Pakii said.

He said the company needed a one-off funding – "less than 10 per cent of the total annual budget allocation for roads" – to sustain its operations for the next 15 years.

A five-year agreement it signed with Australia in 2010 has funded the upgrading of its communication facilities under a K58 million [US$21 million] roll-out funding. It includes new "very high frequency" and "high frequency" facilities around the country.

It is supposed to improve the surveillance coverage of the country’s international and domestic airspace, and the air traffic management system, he said.

He said what was needed now was the Government funding component.

No comment could be obtained from the Government. But it is understood a Cabinet decision in 2013 on the civil aviation industry had not been implemented. It is understood about US$75.3 million was committed by the Government in the Cabinet decision (332 of April 13, 2013) for the modernisation programme.

Meanwhile, Australia has written to the PNG Government to honour its K21.4 million [US$7.7 million] commitment to an aviation safety project they agreed to in June last year.

It is understood that Australia has paid up its share of K12.2 million [US$4.4 million] for the project called the PNG Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast, Multilateration and Air Traffic Management System (PAMAS).

The PNG Government is yet to pay up its K21.4m share, which it had reduced last December by K13 million [US$4.7 million].

A spokesperson for the Australian government said "these funds (K13m) should be reinstated so that PNGASL can meet its contractual obligations for the PAMAS project".

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