As a result major adjustments have been made to flight schedules, leading to disruptions for our passengers traveling both domestically and internationally.
Acting Chief Executive Officer, Gary Seddon in a media statement said a team of highly skilled engineers and technicians are working tirelessly to rectify the issues and restore these aircraft to full operational capacity as soon as possible.
“However, due to the complexity of the required repairs and the availability of spare parts, we anticipate that the restoration process may take longer than initially expected,” said Seddon.
“We are hopeful to have one of the widebody aircraft operational by the end of Sunday 25 June. The parts were secured from the US and shipped overnight,” said Seddon.
“The other aircraft will be unavailable for longer than expected, as we are performing an engine change, once a spare engine has been moved to Brisbane.”
Air Niugini apologizes for any inconvenience caused by these changes and understand the frustration this may cause our customers. The airline is actively engaging with affected passengers to minimise disruptions and provide suitable alternatives wherever possible.
“Our customer service teams are working diligently to assist passengers with rebooking, refunds, and accommodation arrangements as required,” Seddon said.
“We very much appreciate your patience and cooperation during this challenging period. In the meantime, we are exploring all available options to alleviate the impact on our operations.
“We are working closely with our industry partners and evaluating the possibility of ‘wet leasing’ additional aircraft to supplement our fleet and minimise service disruptions.”
Seddon said the integrity of the schedule has been a cause for concern for many months, which is why the airline have taken the necessary steps to procure four Q400 turboprop aircraft and 2 larger Boeing 737-800 narrow body regional jet aircraft.
Meantime, Minister for State Enterprises, William Duma said the solution is to get the Boeing 767 serviceable as quickly and safely as possible.
He assured the travelling public that one Boeing 767 will be made available. The other will take longer due to the requirement of an engine change - which is being sourced out of the US.
“We have both Boeing 767 aircraft that are unserviceable - one will be back to service tomorrow (Sunday 25 June) assuming all goes well with the part replacement which has been flown in from Miami, USA and it is the surrounding engine cowl - the part is the size of a Toyota Landcruiser,” said Minister Duma.
However with ‘wet leasing’, the Minister said there are simply no spare aircraft for us to wet lease and bring to PNG to ease this situation.
“We have reached out to all major airlines and lease operators, including Qantas, Virgin, Air NZ, and large lease operators. All have so far indicated that they have no capacity to wet lease. Qantas are currently wet leasing aircraft from Finnair because they have no capacity,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Duma said there are six aircraft being secured. The 4 turboprops are due in sometime before end of July and the 2 Boeing 737 are due before end of August 2023.
“Air Niugini is working around the clock to ensure that passengers are informed, but due to aircraft downgrading, we are having to offload passengers. It has been a very challenging few days.
“We are hopeful that this will be largely resolved in the next 48 hours.”