Pacific Blue eyes bigger market in PNG

Virgin Blue’s international offshoot Pacific Blue has launched its first service between Brisbane and Port Moresby, seeking a bigger share of the growing PNG market.

The airline will operate four direct return flights a week between Brisbane and PNG, in future under code-share with Airlines PNG, using its Boeing 747-800 fleet.

The company’s chief executive Brett Godfrey said Pacific Blue was already successfully servicing five Pacific Island destinations, and launching services to PNG was a logical decision and a natural fit for the airline.

“There has been a strong economic and cultural relationship between Australia and PNG for years and the launch of our services to and from Papua New Guinea can only strengthen the connection between our two countries.

“We have no doubt the additional schedule choices Pacific Blue offers…will appeal to the leisure and VFR markets as well as to business travellers who make up 35 per cent of all travellers ex-Australia,” Mr Godfrey said.

Pacific Blue’s entry in to the market comes under a strategic partnership with PNG-based Airlines PNG

Airlines PNG chief executive John Fitzgerald said since late 2005, his company had already brought significant competition to international routes between Papua New Guinea and Australia.

“We’re pleased that the commencement of Pacific Blue operations will introduce a strong and successful regional competitor onto the Brisbane route,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“We are awaiting approval from PNG’s competition regulator, following which I am sure that we can look forward to a long and productive code-share partnership with Pacific Blue – a partnership that will see sustainable competition produce benefits for travellers between the two countries with greater choice in terms of product, schedules and air fares.”

Meanwhile, the Papua New Guinean Government is reportedly looking at luring another Australian airline, Sky Air World, in a bid to lift competition in the country’s aviation industry. Sky Air World provides services to Solomon Islands and Fiji.

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