Nasfund’s Board has approved the sale of its shares in PNG Air to Link PNG, subject to Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) and other required approvals.
Link PNG aims to strengthen the air network across PNG while ensuring the viability of the country’s second biggest airline at a time when airlines around the world are struggling to survive due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The same offer will be extended to all of PNG Air’s shareholders.
Link PNG General Manager, Alex Kia, said the proposal would be a huge coup for airline passengers, as well as ensuring job security for all the PNG national staff across both airlines and the continuation of the PNG Air brand in our skies.
“Link PNG and PNG Air have historically focused on providing services to regional towns across PNG where the larger jets are unable to operate. As part of this focus we will be able to expand the PNG Air brand out to even more domestic destinations, giving our customers more choice, more destinations, and more reason to travel around our beautiful country,” Kia said.
“At a time when aviation is in turmoil there is a compelling case for creating a stronger PNG Air, across a wider network, and ensuring job security. We will also ensure the savings created will be passed back onto our customers.”
Link PNG said it is committed to ensuring customers will have access to more affordable airfares; with the lower prices resulting from economies of scale and from the new and improved network.
The merger will create considerable cost efficiencies that will be passed on to passengers; while it will also allow more choices to flight timetables and an additional seven routes across regional PNG and giving passengers access to many more flights per week.
Kia said there would not be substantial changes at PNG Air; instead the strategy was to integrate the present Link PNG network into PNG Air’s schedule, including rebranding the Link PNG DHC-8 turboprops as PNG Air.
Beyond the benefits to travellers, the merger will allow aviation to survive COVID-19, which is the industry’s greatest ever challenge, and emerge from the other side of the pandemic as an even larger contributor to PNG’s economic growth and living standards by driving lower airfares and achieving sustainability.
Link PNG will require regulatory approvals, including from ICCC, before the partial acquisition is finalised.
“This merger will make the airline a sustainable business that doesn’t need to rely on Government support, meaning a saving of valuable taxpayer funds whilst also ensuring we can reduce airfares and invest in the newest and most suitable aircraft,” Kia said.
“With the savings we will generate, we will be able to pass this back onto our customers through more affordable airfares.”
The merger would be one of the most significant partnerships in PNG’s aviation history.
“We’re planning to ensure the PNG Air brand survives, their staff still have jobs, whilst also giving our customers more choice, more destinations and more reason to travel around our beautiful country.”