May 15 - Russia's Volga-Dnepr Airlines has commenced a contract to operate AN-124-100 freighter flights to a new natural gas field in Papua New Guinea.
Volga-Dnepr completed its first flight from Papua New Guinea's Port Moresby to Komo carrying supplies for a new gas conditioning plant being built by CB&I, on behalf of oil and gas exploration firm Exxon Mobil.
The launch of the AN-124-100 flights has come after several years of planning by specialists from Papua New Guinea, the USA, Australia and Japan, who have been working together to develop the new gas field.
Volga-Dnepr's involvement in the project dates back to 2008 - primarily delivering specialist advice regarding the construction of a new airport in Komo capable of handling AN-124-100 flights. The company provided advice to determine the optimal location and technical characteristics of the airport's runway, which measure 3,200 m long and 45 m wide.
Volga-Dnepr will deliver supplies of gas equipment on an ongoing basis. Special loading equipment and trailers have been developed by Volga-Dnepr for the loading and offloading of cargoes - eliminating the need for cranes and reducing the time that aircraft will spend on the ground.
Deliveries in Papua New Guinea will only operate during daylight hours because of harsh environmental conditions that include highland areas and frequent fog, according to Volga-Dnepr.