Humble Beginnings

Early Beginnings in the 70s

The beginning of Air Niugini could hardly have been less auspicious. It was September 1972, less than 18 months before Papua New Guinea was granted self-government and agreement in principle had already been reached regarding the formation of a new national airline.

Then came the fall of the Australian liberal coalition and the election of the first Labor government to gain power in Australia in 20 years. Overnight the whole project was thrown in doubt. Disagreement turned into acrimony as the various parties and government fought for bigger stakes in the company, whilst concerned TAA and Ansett pilots expressed concern over their uncertain future.

It took several months of concerted discussions and strong pressure by opposition members in the Australian parliament before an agreement was finally reached at the end of May. Under that historical agreement a single national airline was to be formed which would take over Papua New Guinea’s domestic services and would also compete on the Australia to Port Moresby flights route.

The airline was to be named “Air Niugini” which is the accepted Pidgin English spelling of New Guinea. Initially the Papua New Guinea government took a 60% stake with TAA and Qantas taking a 12% stake each and the remaining 16% being accepted by Ansett. Qantas provided top management with the new airline absorbing all Ansett and TAA staff who requested employment. Air Niugini was then born, the airline that has developed into one of Papua New Guinea’s largest and most respected corporations.

The Birth Of Air Niugini

Since its inception in the 1973 as the National Airline of Papua New Guinea, Air Niugini has made it possible to experience the best that Papua New guinea has to offer. We can show you the spectacular Highlands regions, take you down the mighty Sepik River and into the coastal villages that remain virtually unexplored.

Like the pioneers of a century ago, Air Niugini is opening up this magnificent country, sharing its ancient traditions and the unspoiled landscapes with visitors from around the world. Each year we endeavor to introduce new and exciting holiday opportunities to exhibit our country like no-one else can.

If you want to see the best of Papua New Guinea, put yourself in the best hands and come fly with us in the “Land of Adventure and Excitement.”

Our modern fleet of aircraft comprises a Boeing jet for international routes and Fokker F-100, F-28 jets and Dash 8 aircraft that suit the requirements of flying within the unique and challenging Papua New guinea terrain. Fokker F100 also flies daily to Cairns in Australia.

Successful Inauguration

Air Niugini’s official inauguration marked the beginning of a rapid period of growth as a demand for traffic (both passenger and cargo) far exceeded all prior estimates. In its first year alone, Air Niugini carried 350,000 passengers – 85,000 more than the taskforce had forecast and more than trans Australian Airways and Ansett combined. That same year, Air Niugini’s fleet of eight Fokker F27s and DC3s flew more than 27,000 hours.

The following year, the airline gave another impressive performance and by 1975 the decision was made to acquire new aircraft to service the demand for the company’s service. After lengthy discussions, Air Niugini succeeded in obtaining two more F-27 Fokker friendships, bringing the size of the fleet up to 10. The major foundations for the airline’s future growth had been laid.

Click here to read on about Air Niugini in the Late 70’s.

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