In our country where many places are still not linked by road and air access is still vital, Air Niugini is more than just our national airline, it is a symbol of our country’s astonishing progress from independence and with the background of this physical accessibility challenges, ANG has helped to bring diverse local communities together in creating a more unified nation.
Air Niugini has been a reliable air service provider for many years since its formation almost incidentally with the birth of our country. However, in the recent past years ANG’s services appears to have deteriorated which was brought on by an onset of many technical issues which threaten to ground the airline.
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The technical issues can also be attributed to ANG being operated as a SOE with community service obligations and profits not retained to carry out vital maintenance or upgrade its aircraft fleet which were becoming obsolete. These contributes to high cost of ownership. From an economic rationalisation perspective, ANG appears more as a cost burden and a liability: it was making losses and the unit cost was high. Many times it was the subject of debates to sell it off as a non-performing GoPNG SOE and this consideration is still on the table as the GoPNG appears not in a hurry to put down ANG as a ‘panting dog’.
GoPNG recently came to the rescue of ANG with a K2 billion funding but PMJM issued an ultimatum that ANG must make the most of this financial life-line or GoPNG will change its protectionist policy by ‘opening up the skies’ and allow more competition into ANG’s air coverage market. GoPNG’s decision to persist with and patronaging ANG is understandable given our airlines symbolism and status it projected for our nationhood. Hence, pursuits in maintaining a ‘National Airline’ is an endeavour that should be pursuit more on National Rationalisation than Economic Rationalisation.
As another prominent senior citizen Alois Jerewai is noted stating in one of his recent Facebook post, while our country still lacks total connectivity by road, the continued operation of Air Niugini is a public service and not necessarily a business concern while the. For National Security reasons also, this Airline’s survival is the survival of this Country.
Responding to many commentators on his post who viewed the situation with our National Airline from the Economic Rationalisation perspective, Mr. Jerewai said “the Airline is still the biggest mobiliser of our travelling public, business-people, and in case of immediate national state of emergency, the transportation of our security forces. While I agree with your various observations, the fact remains that the airline is not strictly a business concern. It is currently a public necessity.”
I agree with Mr. Jerewai and from a technocratic perspective our Airlines is salvageable from its current situation.
My suggestion for salvaging our National Airline is given in this article below.