PNG Air Signs For Three ATR 42-600S Aircraft

PNG Air ATR 42-600 stol version
Credit: ATR

SINGAPORE—Papua New Guinea regional carrier PNG Air ordered three ATR 42-600S aircraft at the Singapore Airshow Feb 11, becoming the launch customer for the short takeoff and landing (STOL) version of the ATR 42.

It was the first aircraft order signing at the Singapore Airshow, which has been marred by numerous pullouts from companies and visitors.

The aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2022 after the type certification and will replace PNG Air’s existing fleet of 10 De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100s. 

The all-turboprop airline also operates seven ATR 72-600s.

“It is a natural and understandable progression to get the ATR 42 as an ATR 72 operator,” PNG Air CEO Paul Abbot said, adding there are numerous communities in Papua New Guinea that have no access to road and shipping networks; air is the only mode of transportation to reach them. 

Of the 528 registered airports in Papua New Guinea, only 26 are paved. Abbot said the airline is working with local agencies on the runway extension program to increase some of the strips from 900 m (2,953 ft.) to 1000 m. He added that the program, along with the ATR 42-600S, will open up 10 to 15% more airfield. 

As the ATR 42 will eventually replace all PNG Air’s Dash 8s, Abbot said there are opportunities to procure more ATR 42-600S aircraft, dependent on local market growth, aircraft disposal and other factors. As the main market for the Port Moresby-based airline comes from local industries such as mining and other commodities, the airline faces some market headwinds with low prices of resources, as well as an 80% unemployment rate in the country. 

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.