Press Release | Air Niugini Bans International Passengers.
MINISTER FOR STATE ENTERPRISES
Thursday 19 March 2020
Air Niugini will cease carrying passengers on inbound international flights from midnight Saturday, March 21, the Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Sasindran Muthuvel, announced today.
“There will be exceptions,” he said. “Passengers will be limited to critical emergency personal, diplomatic staff, medical experts, and advisers required by Papua New Guinea to maintain our capacity to fight the coronavirus pandemic,” he said. Essential airline staff will also be allowed to travel so that domestic flights can continue.
“It is not practical to stop inbound flights altogether – to do so would jeopardise the fight against the pandemic and put Papua New Guineans in unacceptable danger.
“Papua New Guineans who are presently overseas will be allowed to return home during this period, however will be subject to a 14 day self-isolation period on their return. Air Niugini recommends that citizens wishing to return home should do so as soon as possible.
“The ban will be in place for one week, with ongoing review. We are in a fast-changing environment, and we will continue to keep the public updated.
“All of these limited inbound passengers will be fully screened AND TESTED prior to check-in, and screening will again be done at Jackson’s Airport prior on arrival. They will also be required to self-isolate prior to travel to PNG. There will be no restrictions on passengers wishing to leave PNG.”
Minister Muthuvel said PNG’s passenger screening regime was among the most successful in the world, with only a handful of people requiring testing.
Freight from the approved departure ports – Cairns, Brisbane and Singapore – must continue, he said. It includes essential items such as COVID-19 Test kits, medicine and other medical supplies, and protective equipment.
“If this freight stops, it would compromise the fight against the pandemic,” Mr Muthuvel said.
Other essential items include food and food production inputs, other supermarket goods, spare parts and equipment required by Air Nuigini and other businesses to keep operating domestically, and parts for key infrastructure.
“The Marape Government is putting the health and well-being of Papua New Guineans ahead of all other considerations. This means having the tools necessary to limit the spread of coronavirus, and to go about our daily lives with as little disruption as possible.”