PNG AIR, formerly Airlines PNG, kicked off its rebrand with the launch of its first ATR 72-600 aircraft in early November, with three of these aircraft expected to be
operating by the end of March 2016.

PNG Air said it would be operating five ATR 72-600 aeroplanes by the end of 2016 and seven by the end of 2017.

The company had selected the aircraft, built by French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR, after finding the ATR 72-600 was the most modern turboprop aircraft suited to regional operations in PNG’s rugged conditions.

Tailored for regional operations, the aircraft has the ability to operate on runways that are short, unpaved and at altitude, while maintaining effective payloads and low fuel use.

PNG Air said the aircraft boasted unbeatable operating costs, high reliability, versatility and passenger comfort, offering the widest cabin in the turboprop market, new seats and more baggage space.

PNG Air chief executive Muralee Siva told company staff he was confident the aircraft was the best available for PNG – connecting to the big cities as well as smaller locations that could not accommodate a larger aircraft.

“We wanted to ensure that the aircraft we chose was capable of serving the needs of the county for the medium to long term,” he said.

“It had to have sufficient seating capacity, flexibility to carry passengers and freight and the ability to operate into unsealed, high and short runways.”

“The ATR ticked all the boxes and offers us a long term solution that will meet the needs of the market well into the future,” Mr Siva said.

PNG Air cabin crew fleet co-ordinator for the ATR Kapi Eria said the fact the ATR was a larger aircraft than the Dash 8, which Airlines PNG had previously used, meant it was more spacious, with more leg room and more cabin storage.

“The larger aircraft also means having 2 cabin crew on board, making it easier for the cabin crew to serve passengers quickly, and also allows them to concentrate on solving any inflight issues that may arise,” he said.

“Passenger care will be more personalised because the cabin crew can monitor all sections simultaneously, leading to greater passenger comfort.”

“Having two cabin crew also gives benefits you might not think of – for example, pre-flight checks and inspections can be coordinated and done more efficiently, helping our on-time performance,” Ms Eria said.

For PNG Air, the aircraft enables the company to service more routes, across more of PNG, at a low operating cost.

Offering versatile freight options, the aircraft fits neatly into the airline’s strategy to service regional markets effectively through lowering the cost of air travel, the airline said.

This was also part of the company’s motivation for changing the name and livery of the airline.

PNG Air chief commerical officer Paul Abbot said the company had set out to suit its vision of being the airline of choice for a new generation of Papua New Guineans.

“We originally looked at using a single device to represent the new airline, but no single image really captured what we were trying to say,” he said.

“We therefore decided to break with tradition and instead selected icons from around the country – showing that we are for all the people and regions of the country.”

“People from all over PNG can connect with the design as they see elements from their region,” Mr Abbot said.