National flag carrier Air Niugini has suspended all its services into Kunaye Airport, Lihir Island, New Ireland Province.

The suspension became immediately effective yesterday (Thursday, October 2, 2014) morning, Air Niugini national sales manager Geoffrey Whitty said in an email to Anitua Group of Companies Human Resources Manager Shaun Carden, transmitted at 9.42am yesterday and copied to Anthony Neck, Anitua chief financial officer.
Passengers booked for yesterday’s PX flights to destinations outside of Lihir were seen scratching their heads and lost in thoughts outside the Kunaye terminal, unsure of what to do next.
Airport security guards and workers told would-be passengers to check with the Air Niugini office in Lihir to seek reimbursement and rebook with Airlines PNG, which had been contracted by Lihir gold mine developer Newcrest Mining Ltd (NML) to service its workforce as from this month (October).
The sudden announcement had caught the public and many mine contractors by surprise. The developer had previously announced in public gatherings and roadshows that the change of airlines to service its workforce would be effected on October 5, 2014.
In his email, Mr Whitty said: “Air Niugini has just been advised by NML that all PX RPT services into LNV (Lihir) are to be suspended immediately and until further notice.
“All tickets that have been issued by PX can be refunded at face value or retained for further travel.
“I am sure that Anitua and other landowner groups will be disappointed and frustrated by this outcome,” Mr Whitty said.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this sudden decision and will keep you updated on any new developments.”

LMALA Media Release

Dec 2014 Edition

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