P.N.G approves flights from Samoa

The Papua New Guinea government has reportedly given five airlines permission to run commercial flights between it and Samoa, according to local reports, though Samoa has not opened its borders yet.

National Pandemic Controller David Manning is quoted in local newspaper The National as saying airlines are now allowed to fly to P.N.G. from Samoa and eight other Pacific countries.

They are Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Palau and Niue.

Flights are also permitted from destinations further afield: Australia, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Approached for comment, National Emergency Operations Centre Interim Chair Agafili Shem Leo said: “We have not received anything on such reports.”

Air Niugini, P.N.G. Air, Hevilift, Tropic Air and Pacific Direct Ltd are the airlines purportedly given the green light to fly commercially. 

As of press time none of the airlines had responded to emailed requests for comment about proposed schedules or routes between the islands.

But travel remains restricted. New arrivals need an approval letter, international air passengers travel form, passport biodata page, work permit (if applicable), visa (if applicable), home quarantine request (if applicable), P.C.R. test result (negative), approved international air passenger travel form and e-health declaration form barcode, The National reports. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, P.N.G. has reported 835 cases of COVID-19, and nine deaths. According to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University, the country recorded 24 cases in the last two weeks.  

A vaccine rollout programme has not been scheduled yet but Australia has announced an AU$144 million ($T280 million) for the COVID-19 vaccination in P.N.G. over three years.

Meanwhile, Samoa is only permitting flights from New Zealand to land at Faleolo International Airport, and they are exclusively repatriation flights carrying Samoan citizens and residents. 

There are no indications yet the Government will be opening the borders to commercial flights until a vaccination programme is complete.

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