Prime Minister Hon. James Marape expressed his gratitude to the Rural Airstrips Agency (RAA) and all third-level airlines for serving as a crucial lifeline for the rural communities of Papua New Guinea.
Prime Minister Marape expressed gratitude to RAA for its valuable services and extended appreciation to all third-level airlines for their continuous dedication to the country over the last 48 years. He assured ongoing government support to enhance and strengthen the vital role played by RAA and third-level airlines in connecting the outlying areas of the country.
He said this on Friday, December 15, 2023, during launch of the RAA Corporate Plan 2023-27 and the celebration of RAA’s 10th anniversary. Prime Minister Marape, accompanied by Civil Aviation Minister Hon. Walter Schnaubelt, RAA Chairman Stephen Charlesworth, and representatives from the Asian Development Bank, conveyed his appreciation during the event held in Port Moresby.
RAA, a not-for-profit company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), operates as a Private-Public Partnership (PPP) initiative between the Government and MAF. The organisation’s primary objective is to facilitate scheduled maintenance and restoration of rural airstrips across Papua New Guinea, serving the needs of rural communities.
During his address, Prime Minister Marape announced the government’s commitment to providing increased support to RAA, aiming to revive 400 rural airstrips and enhance the utilisation of third-level airlines in 2024 and beyond. The focus is to facilitate the transportation of produce from rural farmers to markets, fostering economic growth in the country.
“As the economy continues to grow over the next 10 years, essential services like air transport to rural areas will receive more support,” Prime Minister Marape stated.
“We are dedicated to supporting RAA in serving the rural majority, and we will find additional assistance to complement the K10 million budget for the next year.”
Acknowledging the partnership with the Asian Development Bank, Prime Minister Marape emphasised the importance of linking rural airstrips to agricultural productivity. He also revealed plans to collaborate with the National Planning Department and the Agriculture Department to enforce the freight subsidy policy in conjunction with all rural airline operators.
Prime Minister Marape, reflecting on his personal connection to rural aviation, highlighted its significance, stating, “Rural aviation is close to my heart. As a child, I travelled to rural Papua New Guinea with my missionary parents on small aircraft.”