The CEO said this during a media conference on Friday, June 14th, announcing the airline’s plans to enter the Cairns to HongKong route, which current operator Cathay Pacific will cease operating in October.
Milne told the Cairns community that Air Niugini is ready and able to operate the route.
“The good news is that Air Niugini, being the agile operator that we are, is ready to do that immediately. We went down to Cairns and spoke to the Cairns business community, we spoke to them about offering them that Cairns, Port Moresby, Hong Kong service, and they were absolutely thrilled.
“So this is great news for Cairns, it’s great news for Air Niugini and it’s great news for PNG.”
Milne added that another positive to come out of the meeting was the opportunity to sell the Air Niugini product.
“When we showed them our network, both domestically and onwards to international destinations, there was a whole lot of interest.
“So our next step is to start building that market, start spending a lot of time with our Cairns people, understanding where Air Niugini goes, where they can travel to out of Cairns, usually via Port Moresby, onto our international stations.
“But to me most importantly it’s to our domestic stations. Getting more of that tourism flow into PNG, out of Australia. So that’s the first of the steps that we have.
“Cairns is our closest international port, so it’s easier to get the Australians up here, and that’s where we will be pitching it.”
He added they have had enormous interest from the local members of Parliament and the Cairns community, who want to talk to them about possible subsidies as well to make sure that they can continue that service.
Milne said they intend to start that operation with the 767 in October.