Thursday, January 15, 2009

Virgin Pacific Blue forces Papua New Guineans to risk their lives

Total outrage and disgust is all I have to say about Virgin Pacific Blue. The Brisbane based Airline Carrier which is in partnership with Airlines PNG, running the Port Moresby to Brisbane route, today (14th Jan 2009) forced Papua New Guinean travelers and foreign nationals to to risk their lives, by going on a mercy flight to Fiji that is currently facing flooding and cyclones. People who purchased tickets from Virgin Pacific Blue or Airlines PNG were not advised of the change in flight plan and those who purchased non refundable fares were not given the option not to travel. The only option that Virgin Pacific Blue passengers who had brought non refundable tickets were given by Airlines PNG staff at Jackson's International Airport was to travel or lose your money. Many passengers faced with this dilemma took the risky option and decided to fly to Fiji.

It seems that Virgin Pacific Blue seems to think that the traveling public in Papua New Guinea is expendable. In order to save costs and get a good publicity stunt Virgin Pacific Blue has gone out and risked PNG lives. The idea behind the mercy flight was good, but the way that Virgin Pacific Blue has executed it was totally pig headed and disgusting. Virgin Pacific Blue did not take into consideration what the travelling public in PNG wants. For example if they were really trying to do a good deed why not leave the PNG passengers in Port Moresby and fly to Fiji, and then pick up the PNG passengers on the way back. Instead they were willing to risk the lives of Papua New Guineans to go on a mercy flight that is going to give them them good publicity which is subsidised by the PNG passengers. Shame on you big Australian business, for thinking that the travelling public in Papua New Guinea is expendable. I wounder what would have happened if the same thing took place in Australia. For one thing it would have being a public outcry and on the evening news of every major TV network in Australia. They also would have current affairs stories about it etc. But here in Papua New Guinea nothing is done about it. So big Australian companies continue to get away with things that they would not be caught for dead doing in their own country. Simply because we are a poor developing nation that can not afford to have the big government statutory bodies that other countries like Australia have.

The Civil Aviation in Papua New Guinea should also be questioned why it lets PNG lives put at risk for a publicity stunt by Sir Richard Branson's company. After all Richard Branson is already infamous for his long list of publicity stunts. This is just another reckless attempt at getting attention by the Virgin group of companies. But now they have gone to far by risking Papua New Guinean lives is not acceptable.

To the defense of Virgin Pacific Blue it turns out that after a lot of arguing with Airlines PNG's poorly trained enquirers counter staff at Jackson's airport. Passengers were able to get a refund, but the catch is they were not telling people. So is this just poor service by Airlines PNG International Terminal staff or a ploy to help their partner airline to avoid refunding customers? For the travelling public in PNG I am hoping that it is just poor service, because I would hate to think that Papua New Guinean and Australian lives are being risked to save a few kina. This just goes back to the question, what is the Civil Aviation industry in PNG doing?

This Wantok for one has decided not to purchase any more online tickets from Virgin Pacific Blue simply because they think that PNG lives are expandable.

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