PNG PM at odds with predecessor over Falcon Jet

Papua New Guinea (30 Jan) – Papua New Guinea’s prime minister says his government will formally dispose of a controversial jet airplane.

James Marape said he was handing the Falcon Jet, used over the years by successive governments, to national carrier Air Niugini.

Marape said his predecessor Peter O’Neill racked up bills of over US$8.6 million owed to Air Niugini by using the Falcon.

O’Neill disputes this claim, accusing the prime minister of a stunt.

His former government, upon coming to power in 2011, said it would sell the luxury item inherited from the previous government of Michael Somare.

O’Neill said the plane was bought for close to US$50m, but when he tried to sell it the best offer received was only around $20m.

Therefore, he said, it was decided to transfer ownership of the Falcon to Air Niugini, with the airline owing government the value of the plane, while deducting costs as the administration chartered the jet.

Paul Barker from PNG’s Institute of National Affairs said that as prime minister, O’Neill was a frequent flyer.

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