Five questions for Paul Abbot, GM Commercial at Air Niugini


Paul Abbot has had a long career in Papua New Guinea’s aviation industry and recently joined national carrier Air Niugini as General Manager Commercial. He talks to Business Advantage PNG about his new role and the current state of the sector.

Air Niugini’s Paul Abbot. Credit: Ilan Kaprangi

Business Advantage PNG (BAPNG): You joined Air Niugini in June. What does your new role involve?

Paul Abbot (PA): I’m essentially responsible for the commercial performance of all passenger sales-based aspects of Air Niugini’s operations, including managing all domestic and offshore sales offices and agencies, plus the Destinations Loyalty program. In addition, I’m looking after the marketing and PR activities for the airline.

But the most important aspect is to be the voice of the customer within Air Niugini and ensure product, service and operations take a customer-centred approach.

BAPNG: What are you looking forward to in the role?

PA: I’m looking forward to the challenge of helping re-establish the airline after two years of disruption caused by COVID-19. There has also been a wide range of new initiatives started over the past 12 months and bringing those to market will be exciting and will be great from a customer perspective as the airline is taking big steps to improve its product offering.

‘Air Niugini is emerging from the COVID-19 period in remarkably good shape and in far better condition than many of our competitors in the region.’

Air Niugini plays a vital role in the development of the country, both domestically and internationally, and as a management team we are committed to driving change in the airline to help ensure the country has a national airline that it can truly be proud of.

BAPNG: Are there new services being planned?

PA: In short yes, there are, and these will be revealed closer to the date.

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BAPNG: How has aviation changed in the past few years with the onset of COVID-19?

PA: We are now only just starting to see a return to pre-COVID-19 travelling conditions, but still have a few hurdles to climb before we are truly travelling freely again.

Some of the major issues that airlines are facing include staff shortages where staff left during COVID-19 and the ability to recruit and train replacement staff, especially in specialist or technical areas is a real challenge and not a quick solution. This puts pressure on airlines to support schedules and network demand brought on by people once again looking to travel.

Other issues are lack of investment in fleet and facilities as the business has just not been there over the past two years to fund that investment. Airlines are notoriously a low-margin business and consequently the ability to maintain operations over a sustained period of low-volume traffic has been a major concern for many airlines.

Air Niugini is emerging from the COVID-19 period in remarkably good shape and in far better condition than many of our competitors in the region. The return to normal, especially in domestic travel, has happened far quicker than anticipated and while the international routes are relatively quiet, they too are starting to pick up now with many countries removing travel restrictions.

BAPNG: What executive positions have you previously held?

PA: Senior management positions with Air New Zealand, primarily in the sales and marketing division, and Chief Executive for Bay of Plenty Rugby Union, Destination Queenstown, and PNG Air.


  1. Pius M Kuri says

    Over at Western Province’s airports requires supply & installation of security infrastructure to reduce existing social problems, cause the only Province sharing two international boarders (Australia and Indonesia) such as Kiunga airport should do same as Tabubil airport.

  2. Vailea Ora says

    Congratulations to Mr. Paul Abbot on your new job with Air Niugini. At least the right man for the job.

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