Air Niugini boosts Pacific island tourism with three new routes

Air Niugini is launching services to China and the Marshall Islands in Sep-2018, as well as adding a stop in Micronesia to its Tokyo service, boosting tourism in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the South Pacific and reinforcing Air Niugini’s new hub strategy.


Highlights:

  • Air Niugini plans to launch services from Port Moresby to Shanghai and Majuro (Marshall Islands), as well as from Chuuk to Tokyo.
  • The three new routes reinforce Air Niugini’s new network strategy offering connections from East Asia and Queensland to the Pacific islands.
  • Japanese visitor numbers to Micronesia should increase as Chuuk gains a link to Tokyo. Chinese visitor numbers to Papua New Guinea, Queensland and the South Pacific should increase following the launch of Port Moresby-Shanghai.

On 1-Sep-2018 Air Niugini will begin two weekly flights from Chuuk in Micronesia to Tokyo Narita. It has also announced plans to launch flights to Shanghai and to Majuro in Sep-2018 (Air Niugini has not yet set a launch date for, or started selling, Shanghai and Majuro).

All three new services are part of an ambitious expansion plan at Air Niugini designed for connections from East Asia and Queensland in Australia to the South Pacific. In a Dec-2017 CAPA reported:  “[Air Niugini] is creating a unique niche by offering one-stop connections in markets that are underserved and below the radar screen of most major network airlines”.

See related report: Air Niugini pursues hub strategy, offering niche connections from Asia to Queensland and the Pacific

Air Niugini began pursuing the new network strategy in late 2016 and early 2017 when it launched services to Chuuk and Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Townsville in Australia. Air Niugini is relying heavily on sixth freedom traffic at all three of these new destinations.

Air Niugini is expanding in the FSM market when it adds the Chuuk stop on its two weekly flights between Port Moresby and Tokyo Narita. It will continue to operate one weekly flight from Port Moresby to Pohnpei via Chuuk; the result will be three frequencies between Port Moresby and Chuuk, with two flights continuing to Narita and one to Pohnpei.

The new Tokyo link is expected to drive a large increase in Japanese visitors to FSM, which is famous for its diving and adventure tourism, and the airline expects a large number of Japanese tourists will combine FSM and PNG in a single holiday. Japan is the third largest source market for Micronesia’s tourism industry, which is small (less than 50,000 visitors per annum) but has huge potential.

The new Chuuk-Tokyo service – which is made possible by a new air services agreement between Japan, FSM and PNG – will make FSM significantly more accessible for Japanese residents.

In addition to Chuuk and Pohnpei, in the Pacific Air Niugini currently serves Nadi (Fiji), Honiara (Solomon Islands) and Port Vila (Vanuatu). Air Niugini plans to add a sixth Pacific island destination in Sep-2018 with the launch of services to Majuro.

In East Asia, Air Niugini now serves Bali, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore and Tokyo. In Australia it serves Cairns, Brisbane, Townsville and Sydney.

Air Niugini has announced its plans to launch a sixth East Asian destination with Shanghai – China is a fast growing source market for several Pacific islands as well as for Queensland and PNG. The first service to mainland China is a significant milestone for Air Niugini and PNG as a country.

Air Niugini will likely launch more new routes as it renews and expands its fleet, currently 737NGs, 767s and Fokker regional jets. The airline has 737 MAX 8s and 787s on order.