The privatisation of Papua New Guinea flag carrier Air Niugini has been thrown into confusion after the sacking of the airline's board by the country's new transport and civil-aviation minister, Philemon Embel.

In a separate move, he has also turned down a request by Australian regional Flight West to start scheduled services between the two countries.

Air Niugini invited potential bidders to submit tenders by early September for 60% of the company, with the Government and staff holding the remainder. Included in the list of bidders is Sir Dennis Buchanan, managing director of Flight West.

The fate of the privatisation is unclear now that the Air Niugini board has been ejected by Embel.

Meanwhile, Embel has said that his Government will reject Flight West's plans to fly to Papua New Guinea from Cairns and Townsville in Australia, nominating instead Port Moresby-based Milne Bay Air to fly the routes.

Source: Flight International