Air Niugini National Airline

To the people of Papua New Guinea, Air Niugini is more than just their national airline � it�s a symbol of their country�s astonishing progress. Not only has Air Niugini provided a massive boost to trade and tourism over the years, but it has also helped bring diverse local communities together � creating a more unified nation.

One airline for one nation
The idea of creating a single national airline for Papua New Guinea was formed in September 1972 when the country was still under Australian rule and their skies dominated by Australian airlines. But in December that year Labor�s shock victory over the liberal coalition in the Australian elections threw the entire project into doubt.

Australian airline companies, the Papua New Guinea government and various interested parties all vied for a stake in the new airline. After several months of discussions and strong pressure by opposition members in the Australian parliament, an agreement was reached.

Initially the Papua New Guinea government was given a 60% stake, with TAA and Qantas taking a 12% stake each and the remaining 16% being accepted by Ansett. Qantas agreed to provide top management with the new airline absorbing all Ansett and TAA staff who requested employment.

And so Air Niugini was born. Named after the Tok Pisin word �Niugini� which translates into �New Guinea�, Papua New Guinea finally had a national airline to call its own.

Welcome aboard
Air Niugini took to the skies in 1973, taking over Papua New Guinea�s established domestic routes and opening up previously inaccessible areas to locals and tourists.

A growing number of passengers began to use the service and new local destinations were rapidly added.

In its first year alone, Air Niugini carried 350,000 passengers � massively exceeding initial forecasts. By 1975 more aircraft were added to the fleet, bringing the total number to ten.

At the end of that year, Air Niugini went global � opening up a route to Brisbane, and a weekly service to Manila and Hong Kong.

Flying high
In March 1976, new manager Bryan Grey took the helm and oversaw a period of rapid expansion � adding destinations like Hong Kong and Kagoshima to the airline�s international routes. Plans were made for a new building, cargo terminal and computer system at Jacksons Airport in Port Moresby.

In 1979, Air Niugini opened up East and West routes to Honolulu and Singapore via Jakarta. That same year the new facilities were implemented at Jackson�s Airport and new sales offices opened in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Europe and the United States.

A local makes good
1980 marked the beginning of a new era at Air Niugini. Joseph Tauvasa, the former Director of Civil Aviation, made history when he was the first Papua New Guinean to be appointed to the General Manager role.

Wasting no time, Joseph got to work expanding the fleet with new, more efficient aircraft. He extended the airline�s network to include Rabaul and introduced a new service linking Auckland, Port Moresby and Hong Kong in a multilateral agreement with Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific.

International connections
On November 25, 1982 a management agreement was signed with Dutch airline KLM to help boost the airline�s performance.

Under the agreement, 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 Air Niugini�s Deputy General Manager position.

By 1983, Air Niugini was able to provide an all-jet service to the New Guinea Islands region and opened up services to Tari � another Highlands port in Papua New Guinea.

With the airline�s rapid expansion came investment in new technology. On May 5, the Chairman of the National Airlines Commission officially activated the new computer system and acknowledged Air Niugini�s proud position as the leading state-owned corporation in Papua New Guinea.

Contact Air Niugini: 
Sales and Reservations

180 3444 (Toll Free)

+675 327 3444

+675 7104 3444


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