Caption: Prime Minister Peter O’Neill speaking on Monday with Bob Katter, Member of Parliament for the Australian electorate of Kennedy in North Queensland.
THE Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill says increased investment and the creation of more jobs will be the outcome of establishing commercial flights between Port Moresby and Townsville, North Queensland.
After a visit to Townsville this week, where he spoke with a number of officials and businesspeople, Mr O’Neill said there is a lot to be gained from flights to the city and he is encouraging officials to accelerate negotiations with Australian civil aviation officials.
“In Queensland we have flights to Cairns and Brisbane, but there is potential in a different way with Townsville that can deliver greater benefits for Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“Townsville is the largest urban centre in Northern Australia and has both existing and a number of new potential linkages with Papua New Guinea.
“Townsville is a business and industry city that has growing importance for trade and investment with Papua New Guinea.
“We also know there is already a great deal of travel between Townsville and Port Moresby for students studying at James Cook University, and for Defence Force personnel from both countries.”
Mr O’Neill said tourism from North Queensland will also receive a boost when flights are established.
“The average income for people in Townsville is higher than many other parts of Australia, and there is genuine interest in visiting Papua New Guinea.
“This includes members of the Australian Defence Force based in Townsville who want to walk the Kokoda Track, rugby league fans who want to see Hunters games, and adventure travelers.
“Being able to fly on a single ticket makes booking and travel easier so we will see how soon we can establish the flights.”
He said the flights would initially transit through Cairns and connect to Port Moresby which is the growing regional hub for air travel.
“Air Niugini is expanding its services around the Asia-Pacific, and this includes a new service to Micronesia and soon to China and Polynesia.
“Port Moresby is a good connection point for people from Townsville and I think the flights will be well used.”