Papua New Guinea back open for business travel


With international and domestic airline services starting to return to pre-COVID levels and health protocols increasingly relaxed, business travel to Papua New Guinea is finally getting back to ‘normal’.

Air Niugini’s domestic and international passenger volumes have reached and, in some instances, exceeded, pre-COVID levels.  Credit: BAI

After two years of COVID-19-related disruptions, Papua New Guinea’s international aviation sector has taken off again.

‘We can see the flights coming back to and from Australia, and they’re pretty much full,’ Rio Fiocco, President of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told a business breakfast in Port Moresby last week. ‘We’re getting a lot of business people coming back.’

National carrier Air Niugini is already back on the radar between PNG and Australia, with regular flights to Brisbane, Cairns, and Sydney.

The airline is flying return to Brisbane daily. Flights on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday are on a Boeing 767, and flights on Tuesday and Friday are on Boeing 737.

There is one return flight to Sydney each week, every Monday on a Boeing 737. A second flight is expected soon.

There are three weekly flights to Cairns on a Fokker 70 every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Return flights depart the next day.

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Air Niugini is also flying five times a week to Singapore, three times to Manila and one to Hong Kong.

Inflight entertainment and catering have also returned, while the airline’s award-winning inflight magazine Paradise will return in September.

Qantas returns

Meanwhile, Qantas resumed regular flights between Port Moresby and Brisbane last week after more than two years.

Three return flights are now operating weekly on a Boeing 737-800, every Monday, Friday, and Sunday.

A Qantas spokesman told Business Advantage PNG that demand on the route is expected to grow in the next few months, particularly from the corporate market. Flight frequency is expected to ramp up to five flights a week from June 20.

‘The route is the latest international service to be added to Qantas’ network out of Brisbane and will support business and trade between Australia and PNG,’ the spokesman said.

The flights include complimentary food and drink, checked baggage, frequent-flyer points, and lounge access in Brisbane.

There is no news yet about the possible return of Virgin Australia to PNG. The airline was one of the early casualties of COVID-19 travel restrictions. However, a takeover by private equity firm Bain Capital in November 2020 has ensured it has stayed in the air.

‘We have not announced any plans to fly to PNG,’ said a Virgin spokesperson, responding to enquiries from Business Advantage PNG.

Relaxation of COVID controls

COVID-related controls have also been relaxed in parallel with the increase in international flights.

While Air Niugini recently confirmed that passengers departing internationally from PNG cannot be checked in without a certificate of vaccination valid for travel, pre-departure COVID tests are not required for passengers going to Australia, Singapore, the UK, EU, Scandinavia, Canada, Australia, Brazil and South Africa.

At the time of writing, territories that still require pre-flight PCR tests include the USA, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

Meanwhile, if you’re a non-PNG resident flying from Australia to PNG, you’ll only be allowed to enter if you’re fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and hold a valid PNG visa. As of last week, passengers arriving in PNG no longer need to take a rapid PCR test on arrival.

With travel requirements for different countries changing rapidly, it’s best to check at for the latest information.

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