Air Niugini (PX, Port Moresby) is planning to develop Port Moresby into a sizeable maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) hub for third-party customers, CEO Alan Milne told the Papua New Guinean press.

The airline recently secured its first contract from another carrier; performing the heavy maintenance C-check of a Dash 8-100 operated by Solomons - Solomon Airlines (IE, Honiara).

"Whilst we have the current facilities here, we can do a fair amount, we see down into the future a new facility and an establishment of a really world-class airline engineering facility, not just for Air Niugini but for the people of PNG," Managing Director Alan Milne said in a statement.

The carrier will, in particular, focus on Fokker Aircraft maintenance given the general shortage of facilities for the types and their prevalence in the Pacific region.

"80% of the Fokker fleet lives in this region now, both in Australia and PNG. Unfortunately, some of the operators in Australia have to send their aeroplanes abroad to have their C-Checks done, so I see that we will move into Fokker maintenance very quickly to complete these C-Checks," Milne added.

Air Niugini itself operates seven Fokker 70s and seven Fokker 100s. The world's largest operators of Fokker jets are Australia's Alliance Airlines (QQ, Brisbane Int'l) with fifteen F70s and thirty-two F100s, Network Aviation (NWK, Perth Int'l) with seventeen F100s, and Virgin Australia Regional (OZW, Perth Int'l) with fourteen F100s.

Expanding the MRO facilities at Port Moresby will also allow Air Niugini to limit maintenance expenditure for its own fleet. Besides the fourteen Fokkers, the Papua New Guinean flag carrier also operates one B737-700, one B737-800, and two B767-300(ER)s. Its regional subsidiary Link PNG (Port Moresby) operates three Dash 8-200s and five Dash 8-300s.