All aboard: Papua New Guinea’s new world of COVID travel


The travel industry has borne the brunt of restrictions during the global pandemic, but things are gradually returning to a new normal in Papua New Guinea. Business Advantage PNG looks at the latest travel advisories.

Air Niugini

Credit: Air Niugini/Facebook

The rules around travel during COVID are changing constantly and it can be hard for business, or individuals to keep track of what is going on. Domestic travel in PNG has freed up but, for a country that relies quite heavily on international workers, the restart of international flights is key.

In November, Air Niugini announced the resumption of weekly flights to Hong Kong in a codeshare arrangement with Cathay Pacific. The move will allow passengers to transfer between flights between Hong Kong and mainland China, the rest of Asia and worldwide.

‘With Cathay Pacific’s global marketing reach and attractive through-connections to destinations worldwide, we are confident that our Hong Kong service will quickly become popular with both travellers and freight shippers,’ said Air Niugini CEO Mr Bruce Alabaster.

‘With Singapore still effectively closed for transfer/transit passengers, we are sure that the capability of Air Niugini and Cathay Pacific to provide seamless and convenient transfers via Hong Kong, including issuing of boarding passes from origin to destination, and through check in of bags to final destination, will prove to be a winner with our customers.’

Air Niugini continues to operate five flights per week to Brisbane and the Monday flight to Cairns. But given the recently announced changes to requirements for travel to Australia, including providing evidence of a negative PCR test at the time of check-in and mandatory use of face masks in all flights to Australia, Air Niugini has opted to close additional sales for its Port Moresby to Brisbane and Cairns flights from 15 January to 15 February .

Safety measures

There is plenty to be mindful of when travelling by air.

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Air Niugini continues to operate with strict health and safety measures in place including temperature testing of all passengers and providing face masks and hand sanitiser to ensure air travel is safe.

For all incoming travellers to PNG, they must have the following documents in hand before travelling. These documents will need to be presented at the time of check-in or you will be denied boarding:

  • SOE Controller Approval (requests for approval to be sent to;
  • Proof of 14 Day Quarantine in POM (For all international travellers that have not been in Queensland for seven days or more. These include transiting passengers who are transiting via Brisbane and Cairns)
  • Proof of seven-day quarantine in POM (For all travellers who have been in Queensland for seven days or more prior to their date of travel to PNG)
  • Medical Certificate ( Covid19 Test ) – to be done within seven days period prior to the Travel Date (any travel after 11 pm, 22 July 2020)

For a full list of rules around air travel with Air Niugini visit their travel advice page.

Moving around in the niupela pasin (new normal)

Prime Minister Marape and Pandemic Controller David Manning announce POMs second lockdown. Credit: Prime Minister Office NEC/Facebook

When SOE Controller David Manning relaxed rules around travel last month, he made it quite clear that, although PNG was attempting to ‘live with the virus’, there would still be some rules around travel by land and air.

He announced the following rules would apply to air travel:

  • International flights are open up for Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and the Solomon Islands
  • Passengers are still required to get approval from the Controller’s office to travel into the country and must take a COVID test with negative results to be allowed to come to PNG
  • Passengers from New Zealand, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, all Australian states (except Victoria), New Caledonia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Palau and Niue who have spent seven days in these countries will now be quarantined for seven days at home or at a designated quarantine facility in PNG. Those seeking home quarantine will need the Controller’s approval. And with Victoria recording several days of zero COVID cases, we can expect that state to be taken off the banned list very soon.

There are no restrictions on domestic flights and passengers are no longer required to seek prior approvals to travel. However they are expected to continue to observe COVID-19 measures in safe distancing, wearing of masks, regular hand sanitising/washing, and are required to fill out a National Department of Health form which is to be handed to the Provincial Health Authority upon arrival

For those seeking leave to enter PNG, or to keep up to date with the travel advice, visit the PNG Government COVID-19 website.

International advisories

Some travel advisories related to Papua New Guinea from other countries:

  • Australia: Do not travel

  • USA: Reconsider travel to Papua New Guinea due to COVID-19

  • New Zealand: Do not travel overseas

  • United Kingdom: The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.

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