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Papua New Guinea national flag carrier, Air Niugini, has said it is confident with its order of Boeing 737 Max aircraft due to arrive at the end of 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Air Niugini CEO, Alan Milne, made the comments in response to the current safety concerns made by airlines and governments around the world to the aircraft series following a recent crash in Ethiopia killing 157 passengers onboard, and also another in Indonesia within 5 months.
Milne pointed out considerations such as the lead time for delivery to the country and the current investigations carried out to identify any issues associated to the plane series.
“We have the four (Boeing) 737 Max on order, two for the end of 2020, two for the end of 2021.
“I can tell you that the issues with the Max will be cleared in the next couple of weeks.
“So by the time we get the aeroplane, this should be long and truly well behind us and that is why I have been saying publically that we have enormous faith in the product and we are looking forward to that delivery,” Mile said.
The CEO then brought attention to the need for the airline to replace its current Boeing 767 aircraft.
“What do we do to replace our 767s? Not an easy question to answer.
“The aeroplane itself, from the passenger perspective is slightly big for the routes that we are flying at the moment, but it has got the containerized cargo system which is important for our freight business.
“The fokkers don’t have containerised, obviously the Dashes, so our 767s are the only ones that have the vital part on delivering that freight work.”
While the replacement of the 767s looms, the aging of the ever popular Fokker fleet are also in discussions for replacement as well.
“It’s only a midlife airframe, their very solid aeroplane, but they are getting harder and harder to maintain.
“No new fokkers are being built now, so there are no parts, supplies are drying up and it is harder and harder to find parts, which makes it harder and harder to maintain an aeroplane.
“That is not from a safety perspective that’s from a operational reliability perspective.
He said current discussion has seen the airline working alongside fellow Fokker operators around the region on the future of the Fokker fleet.
“The reality is we need a replacement plan, we can’t just deal with it when we get there, because lead times for ordering aeroplanes are huge.
“Of course the Dashes as well, what do we do to replace the fleet.
He concluded that while the CADIP program upgrades airport facilities has been immense, the airline needs the planes available to take advantage of such.
“Ultimately once we have this broader capability of the airport network, then we need a fleet that will be able to deliver that operation as well,” He said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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