By September, national carrier Air Niugini will commence direct flights between Narita, Japan, and Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia.
The agreement was signed between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Japanese and FSM counterparts during the 8th Pacific Alliance Leaders Meeting (PALM) in Japan in May (18-19).
According to the airline, the agreement now enables Air Niugini (ANG) to uplift passengers between Narita and Chuuk on the way to and from Port Moresby twice a week.
ANG’s CEO Tahawar Durrani, said that since the weekly Port Moresby/Chuuk/Pohnpei service was introduced 18 months ago, there has been an increase in the number of Japanese and Australian tourists and divers, as well as business travellers, using this route.
He added that a market analysis was carried out which confirmed that further growth on the Japan route could be achieved by including a stopover at FSM.
Durrani said the expansion to include Japan is strategic and a great opportunity for both countries as it will allow two superb destinations – PNG and FSM – to be marketed to visitors not only from Japan but also from North America and Europe.
“There is a huge tourism potential to PNG, FSM and the Pacific which all stakeholders must continue to work hard to tap into and increase the volume of Japanese and long haul travellers to the region,” he said, urging businesses communities and the tourism sector in PNG, FSM and Japan to work together to create a platform for services to further expand in the future.
FSM President Peter Christian, acknowledged Air Niugini and the government of PNG for providing the needed airline service and has assured of his government’s continued support.
“The reception in FSM has been very positive since Air Niugini started services last year, it has made travel easier for tourists, divers, fishermen and also the local people to travel between Chuuk and Pohnpei as well as FSM and other parts of Asia, Australia and the Pacific via Port Moresby.
[Source: Post-Courier, PNG]