Pomaleu disappointed at airport breach

The national organising committee chairman of the State Funeral of Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Ivan Pomaleu, has expressed disappointment at the breach of the Jackson’s airport's secured area yesterday (Sunday March 14th).

Pomaleu, who is the Secretary for Department of Prime Minister & National Executive Council, said he understood the people’s wish to see the Grand Chief be given an honourable repatriation that is fit for the Founding Father of our Nation, but their right to express their wish should be done within the parameters of the laws.

He said it is regrettable that sections of the crowd at Jackson’s Airport breached the secured area, which resulted in leaders, including the Speaker of the National Parliament, addressing them.

“I note that any breaches in the area is an illegal act under the relevant Civil Aviation laws,” Pomaleu stated.

“We all are mourning the passing of the Grand Chief, but in doing so, we must continue to keep within the parameters of the law. That is what Grand Chief promoted all his life.”

Secretary Pomaleu urged all fellow citizens to continue upholding the law while the nation mourns the passing of a national icon.

“On the choice of travel for the casket; Air Niugini Q400 was chosen because it was the Government's desire to honour the Grand Chief by taking him home in the country's flag carrier,” he said, adding that the dimensions of the casket immediately ruled out Fokker 100 and Fokker 70 as the loading doors would not allow the casket to be loaded.

“Landing capabilities in Wewak ruled out larger aircrafts. It is to be noted also that airline regulatory advisors ruled out any reconfiguration of the cabin to bring a casket onto the passenger area without compromising the safety and suitability of the operating aircraft.

“This is truly regrettable but is something that requires understanding rather than uninformed criticism. It is about how best we honour the Grand Chief within the prevailing set of parameters.”

Secretary Pomaleu also thanked the government of Australia for their support in the final repatriation of the casket of the Late Grand Chief to Wewak yesterday afternoon.

He acknowledged that support strongly as demonstrated by the deployment of a C130, which uplifted the hearse and the C27J Spartan, which eventually uplifted the casket.

Press release