Up to 100,000 additional AN/SSQ-53, 16,000 AN/SSQ-101 and 10,000 AN/SSQ-62 sonobuoys will be supplied to the USN.
Pacific Blue adds new route from Brisbane to Port Moresby
MONDAY, 3 NOVEMBER 2008: Virgin Blue's international airline Pacific Blue (Aust) will take off from Brisbane International Airport at 9.35am today on route to Port Moresby, heralding the beginning of regular services between Australia and Papua New Guinea for the airline.
Pacific Blue will operate four direct return flights a week (Mon, Wed, Fri and Sun) between Brisbane and PNG, in future under code-share^ with Airlines PNG, using a modern fleet of Boeing 737-800 jet aircraft.
Fares from Brisbane start from AUD$289* (inclusive of taxes) with convenient connections available from Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and soon New Zealand. Fares from Port Moresby start from PGK599* including taxes.
Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said with Pacific Blue already successfully serving five Pacific Island destinations with its tried and tested business model, commencing services to PNG was a logical decision and a natural fit for the airline.
"There has been a strong economic and cultural relationship between Australia and PNG for years and the launch of our services to and from Papua New Guinea can only strengthen the connection between our two countries.
"We have no doubt the additional schedule choices Pacific Blue offers, as well as everyday low fare options and exceptional Guest service, will appeal to the leisure and VFR markets as well as to business travellers who make up 35% of all travellers ex-Australia.
"As with other Pacific Island nations we service these flights will certainly bring significant benefits to the people and economy of PNG through increased tourism spurred on by real competition and access to affordable airfares."
Airlines PNG Chief Executive Officer, John Fitzgerald, added, "Since late 2005, Airlines PNG has already brought significant competition to international routes between Papua New Guinea and Australia. We're pleased that the commencement of Pacific Blue operations will introduce a strong and successful regional competitor onto the Brisbane route.
"We are awaiting approval from PNG's competition regulator, following which I am sure that we can look forward to a long and productive Codeshare partnership with Pacific Blue - a partnership that will see sustainable competition produce benefits for travellers between the two countries with greater choice in terms of product, schedules and air fares."
Being a little over three hours flight time from Brisbane, not only is Papua New Guinea one of Australia's closest neighbours, it has much to offer with its rich culture and historically significant attractions such as the Kokoda Track as well as its unique and unspoiled landscape.
Leisure and adventure travellers to PNG are spoilt for choice with the rugged mountain terrain and deep cave systems offering wonderful exploration opportunities for walkers, cavers and climbers along with canoeing, kayaking and fishing on the river and delta system. Papua New Guinea also enjoys some of the world's best diving around its warm coastal waters, with striking coral reefs around the mainland coast and the islands of the Bismarck Sea and the Milne Bay area.
Onboard today's launch flight will be Virgin Blue Chief Commercial Officer, Stefan Pichler, as well as Airlines PNG Chairman, Simon Wild, who will be accompanied by the airline's "ambassador" Ryan Pini. Ryan is a national hero in PNG - having won the Commonwealth Games 100 metres butterfly event in Melbourne in 2006 and reaching the final of that event at the Beijing Olympics this year.
A number of Virgin Blue team members from Brisbane will also be on the first Pacific Blue flight to Port Moresby including Pacific Games gold medalist and track and field Olympian, Ann Mooney, who has previously represented Papua New Guinea in the 1999 and 2007 South Pacific Games and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Ms Mooney was also Miss Charity Queen in the Miss PNG Red Cross Quest 1996 and Miss PNG runner up in the 1996 Miss PNG Quest.
Guests on the inaugural flight from Australia will enjoy a rock-star farewell from Brisbane International Airport with a cake, balloons and ribbon cutting along with a traditional Papua New Guinean dancer.
Dignitaries from the Papua New Guinea Government, Tourism Offices and Airlines PNG will greet the arriving flight into Port Moresby at 12.55pm today with a special welcome function at the airport to mark this historical occasion.
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