In 1981/2, three De Haviland Dash 7 aircraft were purchased and because of their S.T.O.L capabilities these aircraft were expected to open new airports and take over all services operated by Fokker F27s. One of the most significant events during the early 1980s was the announcement on November 25, 1982 that a management agreement would be signed with Dutch airline KLM. The aim of the agreement was to take advantage of outside assistance to further enhance the performance of the airline.
Under the management assistance program, KLM provided a team of four executives for a period of three years from February 1, 1983. Former KLM Director of Operations and Boeing 747 pilot Leen Van Ryswyk led the group from Holland and took up the position of deputy General manager of Air Niugini.
In 1983, Air Niugini provided an all-jet service to the New Guinea Islands region with the inauguration of Fokker F28 flight to Hoskins in West New Britain – the eleventh domestic port to get jet transport. At the same time, Dash 7s opened up services to another Highlands port, Tari.
The papua new guinea flights rapid expansion went hand in hand with investment in new technology. On may 5, the Chairman of the national airlines Commission pressed the button to officially activate the new computer system and acknowledged Air Niugini’s proud position as the leading state-owned corporation in Papua New Guinea.
In 1984, Masket Iangalio replaced Joe Tauvasa as General Manager and completed the sale of the two 707s and formulated the lease from Trans Australian Airlines of an Airbus A300 to operate the international services. At this stage of the airlines development, the fleet consisted of five Fokker F28s-1000s, three Dash 7s and the Airbus A300 leased from TAA.
Following the resignation of Masket Iangalio, the position of General manager was advertised worldwide and Dieter Seefeld was appointed. After his previous 18 years marketing experience with Lufthansa, it was no surprise that Mr Seefeld was responsible for one of the most innovative and successful ideas introduced to the company: the new corporate image brought into vogue throughout the organisation. The country’s national symbol is still recognised as the flag carriers logo but represented in a style more suitable to the nineties and modernisation of the Air Niugini Airlines operations.
Over the next six years, Air Niugini again expanded it’s services by introducing additional Fokker F28s to it’s existing domestic fleet of eight F28s and two dash 7s (one was since sold). A new Airbus A310 was purchased to replace the Airbus A300 leased from TAA opening up the opportunity for the further expansion of routes.
Reflecting that continued drive for excellence, Air Niugini unveiled its new passenger reservations, departure control and ticketing systems known as Gabriel. The computer network, used by numerous airlines and travel related organisations worldwide, not only underlined Air Niugini’s commitment to technology but provided even more direct control of the management of flights as well as offering information on nearly 10,000 hotels worldwide and up-to-date regulations on over 200 countries as well as requirements, passports, visas and vaccinations.
Pride of the Nation
With the record growth, Air Niugini had not only built up its own reputation, but also increased the volume of international passengers and boosting the image of Papua New Guinea as an exotic tourist destination.
Not only was the airline promoting the country’s charm through posters and brochures, but it was also responsible for organising holiday packages of 3-21 days and offering diverse locations all over the country.
Indeed after more than 32 years of operation, Air Niugini remains as committed as ever to its future development and ensuring that national development remains a priority.