Air Niugini has commenced nonstop service between Townsville and Port Moresby.
Flight PX60, operated by Boeing 737-800 P2-PXC, touched down at Townsville a little after 1130 local time on Monday, after a 90-minute journey from the Papua New Guinea capital.
The aircraft, which was greeted by a celebratory dance on the tarmac, was on the ground for about 80 minutes before taking off as the reciprocal PX61 to Port Moresby.
While a 737-800 was used for the inaugural flight, the twice weekly offering would be served with Fokker 70 equipment.
Townsville is Air Niugini’s fourth destination in Australia. The Papua New Guinea flag carrier also serves Brisbane, Cairns and Sydney from its Port Moresby hub.
Air Niugini chairman Sir Frederick Reiher, who was on the inaugural flight along with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, said the service would save residents of Townsville and the wider region time and money when travelling to Asia and the Pacific.
“This service will offer the citizens of Townsville and other centres such as Mackay and Mt Isa the efficient international “connection” they don’t currently have – transiting here before traveling to our major Asian centres such as Manila, Singapore and Hong Kong as well as Honiara, Nadi, Port Vila , Pohnpei and Chuuk in the Pacific,” he said in a statement.
Port Moresby is Townsville Airport’s second international destination, after Jetstar commenced nonstop flights to Denpasar in September 2015.
Townsville Airport chief operating officer Kevin Gill said locals would no longer have to travel backward via Brisbane to go overseas.
Moreover, Gill expected the route to deepen already strong ties between Papua New Guinea and North Queensland.
“Papua New Guinea and Townsville share a rich Defence history, with the Kokoda trail located in Port Moresby and Townsville being the largest Garrison city in Australia,” Gill said.
“It is expected the route will also facilitate further education, business, agriculture, and freight opportunities.”