Air Niugini suspends Brisbane-Palau route from May 1

May 5, 2024 | Blog, News

Air Niugini has announced the suspension of its weekly services from Brisbane to Palau via Port Moresby, effective May 1, 2024. This decision marks a significant shift in air travel connectivity between Papua New Guinea, Palau and  the northern Pacific islands.

The service, which commenced in February 2023 with the support of the Australian government’s Pacific Flights Programme, aimed to enhance connectivity between Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Palau. However, Air Niugini cited that passenger and freight growth fell short of initial expectations, leading to the suspension of the route.

The suspension of Air Niugini’s Brisbane to Palau route raises concerns about the impact on connectivity to Palau and the broader northern Pacific islands. Palau, known for its pristine beaches and vibrant marine life, relies heavily on tourism, with air travel playing a crucial role in facilitating visitor arrivals.

With the discontinuation of Air Niugini’s services, travellers to Palau may face limited options for reaching the island nation, potentially affecting tourism and economic activities in the region. Palau’s tourism operators, who have supported the airline’s operations over the past 13 months, may experience a decline in visitor arrivals, impacting their businesses.

The suspension of the route underscores the challenges faced by airlines in sustaining international routes amid fluctuating travel demand and operational costs. Despite the support provided by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through the Pacific Flights Programme, Air Niugini’s decision highlights the complexities of operating long-haul routes in the Pacific region.

While Air Niugini expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the DFAT initiative and thanked tourism operators for their support, the airline looks forward to future opportunities to engage in similar programmes. However, the immediate concern remains the implications of the route suspension on connectivity and accessibility to Palau and other northern Pacific islands particularly for Australians, who have had the option of flying via Port Moresby.

As stakeholders assess the impact of Air Niugini’s decision, discussions may ensue regarding alternative solutions to maintain connectivity in the region. Whether through partnerships with other airlines or exploration of new routes, efforts to address the connectivity challenges in the northern Pacific islands will be crucial for sustaining tourism and economic development in the region.