SCHEDULED PNG Air services to Aropa, near Kieta in Bougainville, started in April after the airline added a third ATR 72-600 aircraft to its fleet.

PNG Air chief commerical officer Paul Abbot said the new ATR would link Buka and Aropa, with the company also to offer connections through to other ports in PNG.

“For the airline it’s about making sure that we help with the development of the country and increasing the options for people and businesses to connect,” he said.

PNG Air had also been able to alter its schedule with the increased capacity the new plane gave it – starting ATR services linking Mt Hagen and Madang, a fifth daily service between Port Moresby and Lae and increasing services to Vanimo to four per week.

Freight services were also improved, with daily freight services between Port Moresby and Mt Hagen and between Port Moresby and Lae and a weekly freight option serving the New Guinea Islands.

“We are excited about the increased frequency on key ports and the option now of running our Dash 8 aircraft configured for freight to support Mt Hagen, Lae and the Islands where we are seeing increased demand for bulk goods” Mr Abbot said in an announcement.

PNG Air chairman Murray Woo said the airline aimed to have five new ATRs serving its network by the end of 2016, as the group worked to launch services to Jayapura.

“These are exciting and challenging times for the airline and PNG as a whole,” he said.