The district of Komo, buried deep in the Papua New Guinea highlands, is getting its first commercial passenger air services later this month when Link PNG commence flights between Port Moresby and Komo.
Komo has a substantial 3,200 metre runway, the longest in PNG. It is a privately owned airfield that was built to facilitate the construction of a nearby ExxonMobil liquified natural gas project. GIven the remote and mountainous terrain, the lack of roads and other infrastructure, getting the airport built was quite an engineering and logistical challenge.
Since opening, the airfield has accommodated aircraft as large as the Antonov An-124s – an incongruous sight in the remote jungle.
Over 132,000 people live in the area which is six hundred kilometres from the nation’s capital city, Port Moresby. There are no road links between the region and Port Moresby, making it highly dependant on air links. Until now, residents have had to travel to townships such as Mt Hagen to access scheduled passenger air services.
Link PNG is a subsidiary airline of Air Niugini, PNG’s flag carrier. I’ve talked about Air Niugini a few times in the past couple of months in Oz Traveller. The Link PNG flights will be the first ever regularly scheduled passenger flights into Komo and will operate twice a week using 50 seat Dash 8-315 aircraft.
What makes this flight unusual is the check in procedure at Komo. You don’t check in at the airport, rather in the town at Komo Station. Komo Station isn’t a railway station (there are no railways in PNG) or a bus station, rather an all purpose general store / depot for the nearby area.
Because Komo Airport wasn’t designed to be a commercial airport, there are no terminal facilities for regular passenger services.
Passengers check in themselves and their luggage at Komo Station, both of which are taken by bus to the airport. Likewise, arriving passengers at Komo will be taken by bus to Komo Station where their luggage will be made available for pick up.
The Link PNG flights between Port Moresby and Komo will begin on Tuesday, 19 November, 2019. The flights depart Port Moresby at 10:15 and arrive in Komo at 11:45. The return flights depart Komo at 12:10 to arrive back in Port Moresby at 13:40.
Link PNG advises that tickets are now on sale but there is no evidence of the flights on the Air Niugini booking engine. This isn’t a surprise. In fact, it’s classic Air Niugini / Link PNG behaviour. The airline is good at making media announcements but not so good at updating their systems to reflect what they’ve just said.
The flights will eventually be entered into the system. It might take a few days, it might take a week. The country doesn’t really operate on uptight white people time. May as well just go with the flow.
Categories: Link PNG