Air Niugini, Unpaid Invoices & Stolen Panties
Last month Air Niugini’s main competitor in the PNG aviation industry, Airlines PNG, was splattered across news sites around the world due to the tragedy of the Kokoda crash where 13 people died in what was PNG’s worst aviation disaster to date. The investigation into the crash is on-going and there seems to be a lot of uncertainty as to how many people were actually on board the flight as more human remains have since been discovered at the site of the crash and reports that the plane’s manifesto is unreliable.
Despite the severity of the crash, Air Niugini must have let out a sigh of relief that it wasn’t one of “theirs”, in what has become an aging fleet. Recently, PNG’s flagship carrier placed a firm order for two Q400 NextGen high-speed turboprop airliners worth US$ 60 million. The airline also took an option for an additional Q400 NextGen airliner, which would increase the value of the order to about $92 million if the option is exercised.
However, despite Air Niugini’s much needed spending spree, there seems to be a few niggles plaguing the firm that have hit the news waves around the world. Firstly, the firm owes nearly half a million dollars to Air New Zealand for equipment supplied by Air NZ’s engineering service, plus repair work and supplied materials for one of Air Niugini’s ‘cowling’ systems where the cooling air is discharged in the low-pressure area near the nose of an aircraft. It seems that Air Niugini is refusing to pay part of this invoice because it is disputing the costs – the case is on-going in the Auckland High Court.
Secondly, media reports around the world have reported an underpants thief terrorising plane passengers in PNG. Reports suggest that locks have been broken off from suitcases, and ladies panties have been stolen – all this despite the fact that more valuable items present within the suitcase have remained untouched.
I wonder which one of the above niggles has caused the most harm to Air Niugini’s international reputation? For the same cost the airline is paying its expensive lawyers to flog out a dead-horse case in Auckland’s High Court, the firm could possibly invest in training initiatives and upskilling schemes in an attempt to empower its frontline staff so panties-stealing isn’t reverted to as a corporate pastime.