Papua New Guinea flag carrier Air Niugini has fulfilled its cultural obligation with landowners from Kieta, Bougainville last weekend when it exchanged two pigs with store and garden foods as a token of appreciation to the landowners for allowing the airline to have one of its aircraft christened –Kieta.
The cultural ceremony took place at Toborol village in Kieta and was attended by representatives from six major landowner groups- Barapang, Kurabang, Batuang, Baiang, Mantaa and Bakoringku whose land on which Aropa airport was built.
On behalf of Air Niugini, the airline’s General Manager- Customers and Markets, Dominic Kaumu attended the ceremony and presented the pigs and food items to the landowners.
Mr Kaumu said traditional obligations are an important part of our society and Air Niugini as the national airline was grateful to be able to fulfill its commitment with the landowners.
“ Air Niugini is supporting the government’s initiative to bring back the airline service to this part of Bougainville after 25 years and we are grateful for the fact that you have allowed us not only to resume services but also name one of our aircraft after your airport, Kieta.” Mr Kaumu said.
He added that such a ceremony further strengthens the partnership and co-operation between Air Niugini and the local communities to ensure that the airline services which have just resumed must continue.
“ As you all know, we have just resumed airline services here and we need support from everyone, landowners, communities and the government here to ensure these services continue for the benefit of our people in South and Central Bougainville” Kaumu said.
A Spokesperson representing the six landowner groups, Gabriel Sala acknowledged Air Niugini for fulfilling its traditional obligation and assured the airline of the landowners’ support.
“ Thank you Air Niugini for bringing back services to our people. We are grateful that you have fulfilled your traditional obligations. We assure you that you have our support and we can only hope for more business opportunities to open up in this part of Bougainville.” Sala said
Similar sentiments were echoed by Chief of Pateking clan-Elijah Tavau and Woman leader, Bernadine Naviung.
Mrs Naviung whilst assuring the airline of their support, she also appealed for participation and employment of landowners especially women and youths for spin off activities at the airport area.
Landowner representatives from the six major landowners received the two pigs and other foods which they later distributed to their sub-clans.
Air Niugini’s Q400 aircraft, Papa Xray was christened Kieta following its maiden flight to Kieta, carrying Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill and his delegation for Aropa airport opening on 12th December last year.
Air Niugini resumed services to Aropa airport after 25 years. The airline operates three weekly flights to Kieta every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The direct Port Moresby/Kieta flight is on Tuesday whilst the Thursday flight goes via Rabaul. The flight on Saturday goes from Port Moresby to Rabaul then Kieta, Rabaul and back to Port Moresby.
Meanwhile, Air Niugini services to Buka are continuing with daily flights, except Sunday.