Massive fleet upgrade to transform Papua New Guinea’s Air Niugini


Air Niugini’s ambitious 15-year fleet plan will improve efficiency, reliability and allow new international routes to be added. Business Advantage PNG recently caught up with the airline’s Acting CEO, Gary Seddon, to find out more. 

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, due for delivery to Air Niugini in 2026. The aircraft is seen here on a test flight. Credit: Boeing

Air Niugini recently received cabinet approval to progressively replace 65 per cent of its existing fleet at a cost of around K3 billion.

The airline is planning to replace its high-maintenance and fuel-hungry long-haul Boeing 767 aircraft, for which parts are increasingly harder to find. A recently-penned purchase agreement will see the airline replace its existing two 767 aircraft with two Boeing widebody 787s (Dreamliner) by March/April 2026.

Interim fleet 

Air Niugini’s Gary Seddon.

However, Air Niugini’s Acting CEO, Gary Seddon, tells Business Advantage PNG that the airline’s more immediate priority is expanding the domestic network through a combination of aircraft purchase and leasing arrangements.

Given that the integrity of the [airline’s] schedule has caused Seddon concern for many months, he advises that the airline is about to deploy an interim fleet. In addition to purchasing four second hand (turbo prop) Dash Q400s, the airline is also leasing two larger Boeing 737-800 narrow body regional jet aircraft.

‘All units will be delivered to PNG before the end of 2023. We then expect brand new aircraft to join the fleet from the end of 2024 through to 2028,’ says Seddon.

New-Gen planes for an expanding network 

Seddon also plans to replace the airline’s existing Fokker aircraft fleet, which is significantly underutilised due to its limited range, with either the France-made Airbus A220s or the Brazilian-made Embraer E2190/195s.

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‘Both aircraft need to have the ability to operate an increased domestic frequency from, say, Mt Hagen to Port Moresby, as well as competently serve all of our international destinations,’ says Seddon.

‘By investing in aviation in PNG, we’re continuing to build a robust airline, with both expanded reach and service levels that puts safety first.’

‘New generation planes, which use 30 per cent less fuel, have greater cargo capacity and carry up to 40 more passengers, will increase the airline’s revenue growth while cost savings can be passed on to passengers in the form of reduced airfares. A net reduction in carbon emissions is also realised, supporting the government’s commitment to global emissions targets.’

Dreamliner to put the world at PNG’s feet 

As well as enhancing the airline’s fuel efficiency and sustainability, Seddon also expects the 787 Dreamliners to provide the necessary reach for PNG to become a mini regional hub.

Underpinning the most dynamic fleet upgrade the airline has ever embarked upon, notes Seddon, is the airline’s 15-year vision to evolve from operator of second-hand domestic aircraft into a serious regional and global player.

Seddon sees PNG as a natural hopping-off point between the South Pacific and South/North Asia, with potential routes including Brisbane–to–Singapore/Japan/Beijing/Bangalore and even Dubai. PNG’s location, he adds, also makes it ideally suited for ‘sixth-freedom’ traffic, transiting Port Moresby to other destinations.

‘Our international ticket sales have increased as more passengers see a one-stop transit to a destination as an acceptable alternative to a direct service, particularly if there are substantial cost savings to be gained,’ Seddon notes.

‘Air Niugini’s aggressive fleet replacement program is effectively creating a new airline within an airline, which enhances our passengers’ experience of Air Niugini as a premium service carrier.

‘By investing in aviation in PNG, we’re continuing to build a robust airline, with both expanded reach and service levels that put safety first.’

Air Niugini’s Acting CEO Gary Seddon will be a guest speaker at the 2023 Papua New Guinea Investment Conference, to be held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on 10 and 11 August. Registration information can be found here.


  1. Kivang Huambuhau says

    Again, cabin services must be improved as another customer needs on flights. Otherwise, I looking forward for better flight ✈ services by the airline.

  2. Great to see Airniugini ona path upwards. They need to seriously implement a service culture and drop the ” in your face arrogance ” and couldn’t careless attitude. Customer is Supreme he simply chooses to dump you. In case of Airniugini the customer is not dumping you for lack of alternatives. The stupid unwarranted arrogance must go !

  3. Mr.Remex says

    Good plan.

    I spent three months during my OJT within your AME Division in 2019 and heard about a programme called ECUP which is not yet achieved or rolled out.

    Please, our good Acting CEO do consider that and provide a much better workshop that we can manufacture and construct parts and do more work and save money.

    Anyway, I personally support you in prayers and wishing you best of luck in whatever you are planning to do for our Premier Airline.

    God bless you.

  4. Michael Varapik says

    Excellent…but superior cabin service and customer service should also be upgraded because at the moment it’s pitiful.

  5. Rael Kageni says

    Make it happen and start reducing airfare as well.

  6. Len Sansal says

    Great work acting CEO Gary Seddon,

  7. Jack Gill says

    Airbus A220 is manufactured in Canada not France. Was created by Bombardier.

  8. KANIT VUE says

    Acting CEO is on the right track to advancing our airlines Industry in PNG

    We should soon see minimal flight delays and cancelations..I am looking forward to better travel in png.

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