14 Jan 2003

PNG confident that flights to Australia will not be disrupted

4:29 pm on 14 January 2003

The Papua New Guinea Government says it is confident that the national airline Air Niugini and other airlines can meet Australian air safety requirements by next week.

Late last month Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority indicated it might not renew PNG's Air Operations Certification, which would deny the PNG airlines access to Australia.

It said that the Australian Air Operator's Certificate for Air Niugini and four other airlines, which expires on January 31st, might not be renewed.

The Post Courier newspaper reports that CASA had questioned whether the PNG Civil Aviation Authority had the capacity to carry out its safety oversight obligations.

The PNG Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Don Polye has told media this week that ten months of safety audits have now been sent to CASA, and the latest would be sent by January 23rd.

Mr Polye has attributed the problems at the PNG CAA to its former management and board.

He says this is why he had replaced the board.

Air Niugini says if the ban was put in place it would affect the flights of their F28 aircraft into Cairns, and flights by 4 third level carriers.

But it says it would not affect the services of its 767 jet to Australia and elsewhere which operates on the New Zealand Air Operator's Certificate.

Meanwhile CASA's public relations spokesman Peter Gibson says the process of assessing the airlines' air worthiness is proceeding normally.