29 Apr 2003

Veteran Air Niugini pilot says new investment vital

5:47 pm on 29 April 2003

A veteran pilot who has just retired after almost 30 years with Papua New Guinea's national airline, Air Niugini, says it needs private investment to re-equip itself.

The airline is one of several government assets being readied for sale, though the committee involved in that process says there has been little interest, because the airline is insolvent or close to it.

Captain Peter Sharpe retired yesterday after joining the company soon after it was formed in 1973.

He says the continuing decline of the kina hits the airline hard because it has to buy aircraft, spare parts and fuel based on the US dollar.

Captain Sharpe says the airline faces a particular problem because of its ageing F-28 jets and it needs outside financial help.

"they really have to re-equip within the next five to ten years. We are looking at , well the company is, going back to propeller aircraft, whether that will be successful or not, I don't really know, but it'll be a bit more economical than the jet, and a lot of the new jets are extremely expensive, and whether we can pay for that or not, I do not know."