ExxonMobil PNG, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs of Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Philippine Embassy in PNG, and Air Niugini, have partnered in facilitating a return charter flight from Port Moresby to Manila, supporting the repatriation of dozens of citizens unable to travel home due to COVID-19 related international border closures.
The charter flight returned 40 Philippine nationals to Manila. Passengers included contractors for the PNG LNG Project and a post-operative patient who was able to return home to continue their recovery.
The return flight to Port Moresby repatriated 38 Papua New Guinean students and missionaries. In line with PNG’s State of Emergency (SOE) restrictions all returning passengers will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a Government selected Port Moresby hotel, before returning home to their families.
Keith Killian, Executive Director at ExxonMobil PNG, said that the company is committed to supporting the PNG Government and Papua New Guineans throughout these uncertain times.
“We are grateful that through this collaboration and repatriation initiative, both Papua New Guinean and Philippine citizens can be reunited with their families,” he said.
“Throughout this process, our focus was ensuring health guidelines provided by the PNG Government were strictly followed, as the safety of those on-board and the Papua New Guinea community as a whole are our top priority.”
The Philippines Embassy in Port Moresby conveyed their gratitude to ExxonMobil PNG for its valuing of, and active concern for, its personnel and community, including its Filipino personnel.
Thirty-eight Papua New Guinean students and missionaries have returned home from Manila, Philippines, after borders closed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“ExxonMobil PNG’s steadfast commitment to their charter flight initiative, as well as their constant and open communication throughout the processing of required clearances, made such a significant work a straightforward endeavour. Their understanding and compliance with all partner countries’ guidelines show a commendable practice of corporate citizenship,” they said.
Adhering to Air Niugini’s policies to ensure safe air travel during COVID-19, the flight processes included passenger temperature checks before boarding, distribution of face masks to all onboard and ensuring access to hand sanitiser. The airline also removed inflight magazines and distributed water bottles onto seats prior to boarding, replacing inflight catering services to minimise the risk of virus transmission through close contact.
John Yamin, Acting Secretary at the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs, said this charter flight would not have happened without ExxonMobil PNG and their kind concurrence as corporate citizens.
“Some of our Papua New Guinean citizens, mostly students, missionaries and those seeking medical treatment had become stranded in the Philippines since the lockdown started in February. We are grateful to the ongoing support shown by ExxonMobil PNG to repatriate PNG stranded citizens in Manila,” he said.
The body of a Papua New Guinean who passed away while seeking medical attention in the Philippines was also transported back to Port Moresby, to allow relatives to begin haus krai grieving process.
ExxonMobil PNG continues to support PNG’s COVID 19 preparedness by partnering with the National Department of Health and Provincial Health Authorities to deliver awareness campaigns and donations of critical medical equipment.