Thursday 21 January 2021
All 175 passengers who arrived in the country on Wednesday 20 January, on board a Malaysian Airlines aircraft had the necessary approval from the National Control Centre, said the Controller of the PNG COVID-19 National Pandemic Response and Commissioner of Police David Manning.
Mr Manning said this was revealed from the preliminary investigation he initiated.
The flight was also approved by the Deputy Controller Dr Paison Dakulala upon request of the United Nations Development Program office in Port Moresby.
“Most of the passengers were aid workers and missionaries including officers from the Summer Institute of Linguistics. They had all submitted their International Air Passenger Approval Forms together with other requirements including COVID-19 test results,” Mr Manning said.
He said all the passenger were now in 14 day quarantine at various quarantine facilities. Staff of SIL are believed to have flown out of Port Moresby in a charter and are currently in quarantine as well.
Mr Manning said the Malaysian Airlines flight, which flew onto Nandi, Fiji, with the rest of the passengers, was also cleared by the Department of Transport.
However, Mr Manning said the issue was lack of communication between line agencies including the Department of Transport which approved the flight without consultation with the NCC.
“Whilst it is the function of the Department of Transport to approve flights into and out of PNG we are in a pandemic and all flights must be endorsed by the NCC as well.
“The full and final investigation report will of course ensure that we set in place measures that will allow for more communication and cooperation between responsible line agencies including DOT, Immigration and our partners, both local and international,” Mr Manning said.