The planned order by Air Niugini of Papua New Guinea (PNG) for two Bombardier de Havilland Dash 8-200s is to be finalised, after delays during final contract negotiations.

The airline has been negotiating the order with Bombardier for some months to replace its fleet of de Havilland Dash 7s (Flight International, 6 - 12 November, 1996). A final contract signature is now awaited in Toronto, where crew and engineering training are almost complete.

As part of the deal, Air Niugini has traded in its two 16-year-old Dash 7s , and will lease them back for a monthly rental of about $18,000, with a 50% discount for delivery delays. Air Niugini's first Dash 8 is due for delivery on 20 March, with the second aircraft following on 24 April.

The carrier intends to conduct a review of future fleet plans following the establishment of the Dash 8 operation. The need to replace its Fokker F28 fleet, at least on overseas services, will require the acquisition of a new type. The likely solution will be either to replace some of the airline's F28 capacity, or one of its two under-utilised Airbus A310s, which would meet more closely Air Niugini's current requirements. Any solution will be dependent on an upgrade of some of PNG's domestic runways.

Source: Flight International