Mounted in 1979 was the P2-ANQ “Larry Blackman” outside Air Niugini House.
With no road linking the capital Port Moresby to other towns and the immense distances and time constraints associated with shipping, few airlines in the world play such a crucial role in the country’s economy and basic transport needs as Air Niugini.
And fewer still played so significant a part in opening up previously inaccessible areas. New local destinations were rapidly added and growing number of passengers began to use the service.
Demand for even more international services was soon began. By the end of 1975, Air Niugini began leasing Boeing 727’s from Ansett and TAA for services to Brisbane, it also leased a Boeing 707 from Qantas for a weekly service to Manila and Hong Kong.
A period of rapid expansion followed under manager Bryan Grey who took over from Ralph Conley in March 1976.
Arrangements were made to purchase a total of four Fokker F28-1000 pure-jet aircraft and a Boeing 720B was leased from Tempair to replace the Boeing 727 and 707 aircraft to operate to destinations like Hong Kong and Kagoshima Japan.
At the same time, plans were laid for the construction of the building now known as Air Niugini House at Jacksons Airport as well as a new cargo terminal and installation of an ICL2903 ticketing and reservations computer.
In 1979, Air Niugini opened up routes both East and West to Honolulu and to Singapore via Jakarta. That same year new facilities were established at Jackson’s Airport and new Sales Offices opened in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Europe and the United States.
More significantly, Air Niugini continued it’s fleet upgrade when it acquired another two Fokker F28s from Transair of Canada and grounded all DC3s. At this time Air Niugini relinquished the Tempair leas of the Boeing 720B and ourchased two Boeing 707s.
In 1980, history was again made when the former Director of Civil Aviation, Joseph Tauvasa was appointed as the new General manager, the first Papua new Guinea to be appointed as Chief Executive of the airline.
The 1980s increase in Papua New Guinea travel heralded another period of rapid expansion for Air Niugini with the acquisition of new and more efficient aircraft and the extension of it’s network including Rabaul being linked by Fokker F28 services. As part of the modernisation programme, a new computer system was installed plus a new service linking Auckland, Port Moresby and Hong Kong in a tripartite agreement with Air Zealand and Cathay Pacific.