Friday, 28 September 2018

MICRONESIA: Air Niugini Plane From Micronesia Lands In Water After Overshooting Runway.

An Air Niugini plane travelling from the Federated States of Micronesia to Papua New Guinea has landed in water after overshooting a runway on Friday morning.

All 36 passengers and 11 crew were rescued.

Air Niugini flight 73 is believed to have overshot the runway at Weno airport in Chuuk, Micronesia, where it was stopping over on the way from Pohnpei to Port Moresby.

PNG authorities are investigating the cause of the crash, which is currently unknown.

So far, we don't know why they went down, Chuuk airport manager Jimmy Emilio said.

Mr Emilio said officials noticed the plane had landed in the lagoon instead of the runway about 9.30am.

A on looker wrote on Facebook that he witnessed the crash from the airport in Chuuk.

It landed in the water about 160 yards or 145 metres off shore.

The plane floated long enough for the 36 passengers and 11 crew members to escape and be rescued by locals in their boats.

The Boeing 737 safely came to rest in the lagoon.

People in small boats were seen rescuing people from the plane before it began to sink.

An employee from a nearby hotel said he heard the plane coming in and thought it was a normal landing.

Then he went back to his workplace and looked from the rooftop, the plane was starting to go underwater.

It was sinking. It’s under water now, he said, while praising the impromptu rescue effort.

The plane crashed and in around five minutes the rescuers were there, they were ordinary people, because there are plenty of boats around the shore.

Air Niugini is PNG's national carrier which services domestic network and international routes across Australia, Asia and the Pacific.

Air Niugini Limited is the national airline of Papua New Guinea, based in Air Niugini House on the property of Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby.

It operates a domestic network from Port Moresby and Lae, as well as international services in Asia, Oceania, and Australia. Its main base is Jacksons International Airport.

Niugini is the Tok Pisin word for New Guinea.

The airline was established in November 1973 as the national airline of Papua New Guinea with the government holding 60% of the shares, Ansett (16%), Qantas (12%) and Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) (12%).

It started as an exclusively domestic carrier; however it expanded to offer international services shortly thereafter. In founding the airline, the government aimed to encourage regional development in a country without an extensive road network.

The airline was established using DC-3 and Fokker F27 aircraft.

International services commenced very early on in the history of the airline with a leased Boeing 720 from 6 February 1976 to 2 February 1977. This was later replaced with a Boeing 707 purchased from Qantas.

During the late 1970s, internal services were performed by a combination of Fokker F28 jet and Fokker F27 turbo-prop aircraft. By the end of 1975 Air Niugini leased Boeing 727-200 type aircraft from Ansett and TAA to serve routes to Brisbane.

The airline also acquired a lease of a Boeing 707 from Qantas to commence a weekly service to Manila and Hong Kong. In 1976, the government bought out the Qantas and TAA holdings and in 1980 acquired the Ansett shares to make the airline wholly government owned.

The fleet of F-27s was phased out in the early 1980s with the introduction of the newly developed de Havilland Canada Dash 7 four-engine turbo-prop.

In 1979, Air Niugini opened routes to Honolulu and to Singapore via Jakarta. That same year, new facilities were opened at Jacksons Airport and new Sales Offices opened in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Europe and the United States.

Air Niugini operated their Boeing 707 from Auckland to Hong Kong via Port Moresby in a tripartite agreement with Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific. This service ran from 1981 to 1985.

In 1984, the airline replaced the two Boeing 707 aircraft with an Airbus A300 on lease from TAA.

This was replaced several years later with two Airbus A310s as the carrier expanded to offer flights principally between Australian Eastern capital cities and destinations in Asia such as Singapore and Manila via their hub Port Moresby.

The airline endured considerable hardships in the 1990s, with unrest in Bougainville and a volcanic eruption in Rabaul destabilising the company's busiest domestic services.

The Asian currency crisis also made an impact, with Air Niugini posting financial losses during this decade. The government of Papua New Guinea responded by cutting jobs from the airline, suppressing wages, as well as opening offices in Asia and Europe in an attempt at having the airline run profitably.

Reforms bore fruit by 2003, with the airline posting a profit of US$15.8 million for that year.

A Boeing 767 was acquired in August 2002, replacing the Airbus aircraft, and was used to offer expanded international services. Combined with aggressive pricing, this made it the most competitively priced airline on many of its routes.

A sharing agreement still exists with Qantas in which that airline buys blocks of seats on Air Niugini's flights between Port Moresby and Australia.

The financial turnaround seems to have stymied pressure from various sectors, including the IMF and the Australian Government, to privatise the national carrier.

The PNG government has voiced concerns that privatisation would jeopardise domestic routes that provide a vital service to regional people and encourage economic development, but which fail to realise a profit.

From September 2004, Fokker 100s have been introduced to start to replace the aging Fokker F28 aircraft that are used on domestic routes, the daily Cairns service, and the twice a week service to Honiara in the Solomon Islands.

In March 2006, Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Don Polye announced an open air policy, which would allow other airlines to fly international routes into and from Papua New Guinea. The policy will take effect in 2007.

On December 2007, Air Niugini returned its leased Boeing 767 aircraft to its owners, Air New Zealand. The airline briefly entered a wet lease arrangement with Viva Macau before taking up a lease with Icelandair for a Boeing 767-300ER and a Boeing 757-200W.

The 757 was returned in March 2011 and replaced with two additional 767-300ER aircraft.

On 18 April 2008, flights commenced on the Sydney-Port Moresby route initially using leased Embraer 190 aircraft leased from SkyAirWorld of Australia.

On 15 October 2014, Air Niugini announced a wholly owned subsidiary airline company, Link PNG, which commenced operations on 1 November 2014 to coincide with Air Niugini’s 41 years of operation.

Link PNG principally services routes to provincial and district centres which were being operated by the Air Niugini Dash-8-Q200 and Q300 aircraft. 7 Fokker-70 aircraft were acquired (October 2015) from KLM and were transferred during Oct-Dec 2015.

Air Niugini has had a remarkable safety record insofar there has never been a fatal crash with flight crew members or passengers killed or even injured.

In 1973 when PNG gained independence, Pilots from the two airlines operating for the government were from Ansett Australia and Trans Australia Airlines. The majority of these pilots elected to return to these companies and continue their careers in Australia.

This left a huge shortage in the pilot strength of over 95% and consequently replacements were recruited from both Australia and New Zealand.

These pilots had little or no experience in airline operations and few if any skills or experience operating in the extremely hostile environs of PNG.

Nonetheless, they were trained by the outgoing pilots from Ansett and TAA and with the first class training behind them continued to provide safe and reliable services to all of PNG.

When Air Niugini took over the international routes then operated by Qantas, once again the senior pilots were called upon to convert from basic turbo prop aircraft (F27) to B707-338C 4-engine jet aircraft.

Considerable alarm was expressed that these jungle pilots could not possibly operate large jet aircraft hitherto flown by Qantas flight crews.

Again with excellent training and support from Qantas, the PX crews converted successfully to the venerable B707 and from there took over all the check and training on those two aircraft and continued thereafter to the various replacement aircraft being primarily A300-B4, A310-300, B757 and B767.

There were two crashes internally on the domestic operation with the total loss of one F28 aircraft and one DHC7, both due to pilot error. No deaths or injuries occurred in either crash.

On 28 September 2018, a Boeing 737-800 belonging to Air Niugini flew too low and fell short of the runway and landed in a shallow lagoon off Chuuk International Airport in Micronesia, without serious injury to passengers or crew.

Air Niugini operates to 25 domestic destinations and 14 international destinations in 10 countries across Asia and Oceania as of March 2017.

Air Niugini has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:

- Qantas

- Solomon Airlines

The Air Niugini fleet consists of the following aircraft:

- Boeing 737-700 --- 1

- Boeing 737-800 --- 2

- Boeing 767-300ER --- 2

- Fokker 70 --- 8

- Fokker 100 --- 7

- Total --- 20

The Link PNG fleet consists of the following aircraft:

- Bombardier Dash 8-300 --- 4

- Bombardier Dash 8-200 --- 2

- Total --- 6

Classes of service Air Niugini offers 2 classes of service, Business Class and Economy Class.

Most domestic routes have Economy Class only, while all international routes offer both service classes, except for services to Cairns and selected afternoon services to Brisbane.

Food and beverage service Air Niugini offers food and beverages on almost all flights. On domestic routes, a snack and drink are served. On all international routes, a meal is served.

In-flight duty-free Air Niugini offers an in-flight Duty Free shop on all international flights.

Entertainment Air Niugini offers entertainment on selected international routes. Domestic flights, as well as flights to Cairns, Honiara, and Nadi, do not usually provide entertainment, but passengers to Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong, and Tokyo are offered movies and a range of music.

Paradise magazine Paradise magazine, Air Niugini's in-flight magazine, is complimentary on most flights. The magazine, produced every 2 months, contains a range of Papua New Guinea information and stories, as well as Air Niugini details and route maps.

Executive Club is Air Niugini's lounge and affiliated privileges. 3 memberships, Blue Card, Green Card, and Corporate allow certain benefits to membership holders.

Blue Card memberships give advantages such as additional baggage allowance, advance seat selection, discounts on duty-free purchases, priority baggage handling, and domestic Paradise Lounge access.

Green Card memberships provide all Blue Card privileges as well as extra benefits such as international Lounge Access in Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Manila, Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Corporate memberships are made up of Blue and Green Cards.

Tourism Observer

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