The Townsville Bulletin reports that bi-weekly flights to the largest city in North Queensland will begin in in March.
In a statement to the publisher, Air Niugini Chairman, Sir Frederick Reiher, says “The step will enhance the growth of the Jacksons Airport hub”.
“Travellers from Townsville, and the surrounding areas, will be able to connect to our services to major destinations, including Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong and Narita and, soon, Shanghai,” he said.
Townsville Airport chief operating officer Kevin Gill also tells the Townsville Bulletin that “Townsville Airport sees this as the beginning of a much stronger relationship between our region and PNG.
“The service will provide opportunities across a range of sectors including health, education, business, mining, defence and tourism,” said Gill.
Townsville Airport services a catchment of 250,000 people, which is projected to triple by 2030.
Arrangements for direct flights to Townsville was announced in the Australian media in September last year by Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, following his visit to the town.
He was there during the funeral of Townsville businessman Sir Mick Curtain, whose Curtain Bros group remains a big player in PNG construction and ports.
O’Neill said there was a lot to be gained from flights to Townsville and he was encouraging PNG officials to fast track negotiations with Australian civil aviation officials.