PNG Air Flight CG 8490, took off from Port Moresby, passed over Kerema town and up cutting across Eastern Highlands and Chimbu, passing over the Western Highlands to arrive at a warm and sunny welcome in Wapenamanda.
After two years, flights have now resumed service into the newly upgraded 1600m long runway, which was a part of the Civil Aviation Development Investment Program (CADIP) co-financed by the Government and the Asian Development Bank.
In the last two years, travelers to and from Wabag have had to make a two hour journey by road to and from the Kagamuga Airport in Mt Hagen.
One of first passengers on the flight into Wabag was John Solo, a resident of Port Moresby who works as a tyre fitter working with the Porgera Mine.
He welcomed the resumption of flights, saying that in order to get to work, he had to spend hours travelling on the road. Now with the direct flights, he can travel straight to Wapenamanda, and only a 30-minute trip to Porgera.
PNG Air’s Chief Commercial Officer, Nancy Nakikus said PNG Air is rightfully back in Wapenamanda and looks forward to ensuring that they support the province in its health, education and tourism.
“We are looking for to this great partnership in the near future to give you the service that is required, and if you have any ideas that you would like to share with us to improve our services, please make it known to us.”
Enga provincial Administrator, Dr Samson Amean said since the upgrading program began, they have been patiently waiting for this day to help the administration realize their vision.
“Thank you for partnering with us in our vision for our people and for the future of the children of this province. One of the goals of the provincial administration is to promote Enga as a destination and hub for tourism.
“We know that other provinces and regions in the country are more advanced than us but we are trying our best to promote out culture and traditions, especially for our kids because that’s where our values are and then what we should stand on,” Dr Amean said.
Meanwhile, Enga Governor, Peter Ipatas thanked PNG Air for enabling tourism to thrive again in the province and added that it was safer and more cost effective for his people rather than going all the way to Mt Hagen.
He also said it would also encourage students in other provinces to enroll in existing tertiary institutions in the province and those that are yet to be built. Bringing in lecturers and teachers would also be easier.
The governor also stated that the planned expansion of the Enga Provincial Hospital would make it one of the biggest hospitals in the country. It would be a referral hospital where patients from other provinces can be referred and the ease of travel to Wabag will allow this to happen.
Ms Nakikus also presented Governor Ipatas with five Free of Charge tickets for dux students from the province to the destination of their choice. The governor was also gifted a model ATR aircraft.