By LUKE KAMA, the national PNG
CONCERNS have been raised over the high cost of air fares and freights within the country, and the Government is now assuring the people that the situation will change.
Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin told Parliament yesterday that fares had increased by almost 100 per cent and were “killing ordinary citizens”.
“It costs around K500 to go from Manus to Madang in the past. But now it costs around K1500, as you will have to fly to Port Moresby first and then to Madang,” he said.
“Likewise, from Manus to Lae, we use to pay around K700. But now we are paying K1300.
“Similar is the case for Kavieng where we have to pay around K1700, whereas in the past we only pay K500. Why are we penalising our ordinary citizens for mistakes Air Niugini and its management had done?”
Benjamin also questioned why Air Niugini had cancelled some of its routes such as the direct flights from Manus to Lae, Madang and Kavieng. The flights now have to go first to Port Moresby from Manus before passengers can travel to Lae, Madang and Kavieng.
He said it was getting very expensive for ordinary citizens.
“I have also noticed that the air freights have also gone up by 100 per cent. Previously, it was around K12 per kilo. Now, I will have to pay K25 per kilo. Why such a high jump?”
In response, Public Enterprise and State Investments Minister William Duma admitted that the fare increase was affecting ordinary citizens. He blamed it on problems associated with the airline company.
“I must admit that we (Government) have problems with the airline company and we have been working very hard to address some of these issues. The issues raised by the good governor has confronted all of us,” Duma said.
“Even the cost of airline ticket to my own electorate (Mt Hagen) has also increased.”
He said the Government had taken steps to make some changes at the management level of the airline.
“We have a new board chairman who will bring with him vast experience and he will redeem that airline company and change the way it has been operating in the past,” he said.
“With the new chairman and the new managing director, we hope to request them to attend to this matters immediately.”
Duma said hopefully by the end of the year, he should be able to present a more positive outcome to the people.