The view from the converted DC3 looking down towards Port Moresby airport

Exotic Port Moresby Airport

Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea (PNG) – a beautiful and vastly unexplored country North of the Eastern tip of Australia – is nothing you’d call out of the ordinary. Yes, Port Moresby is fairly accessible from Australia and a few Asian countries, but the people you’d see on those planes wouldn’t be your typical tourists. In fact, most of them won’t be tourists at all. Locals then? Nope, the locals mostly can’t afford the western priced airfares. Papua New Guinea’s per capita GDP lies at only US$2,500, putting the country at the bottom quarter of the global statistic. So who flies to PNG? Expats, businessmen, politicians and the one or other adventurous traveler, is the answer. It’s therefore not surprising that when you land at Port Moresby’s Jacksons International Airport (IATA: POM) the queue at the foreign residents visa counter is the longest; followed by the queue for visa-on-arrival (many nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival for 100 Kina/per person; check with the embassy of PNG in your country prior to your trip).

The airport overall is split up into 2 terminals: international and domestic. In all fairness, the domestic terminal is actually quite frequented by locals even though airfares to fly within PNG are high as I was told by local expats. However, flying is oftentimes the only way of getting to another town as roads are bad and sometimes even nonexistent.

But let’s get back to the international terminal: While you are advised not to walk around Port Moresby unless accompanied by a local and definitely never at night, the airport feels save with plenty of guards who only allow travelers into the terminal building. Having said that, the sound of the alarm from the metal detector upon terminal entry didn’t seem to bother the guards when we entered. Luckily there is another, more serious security check before you get to the airside area.

After you checked in, don’t expect to find many shops within the terminal building. However, there are a few places you can spend some time at. Here our suggestions:

  • If you have a lot of time before your flight and have a car, go to the “Airways Hotel”. It’s on a hill only a few kilometers from the airport and offers all the facilities you’d want including a supervised children’s area, a restaurant and a fantastic view down towards the airport. It even features an old Air Niugini DC3 which was converted to an internet cafe (see photo).
  • In the terminal: go on a bargain hunt and buy locally produced coffee and vanilla seed pots (you are allowed to bring both into Australia as long as they are properly sealed)
  • Buy postcards, flags or other souvenirs from one of the small shops before immigration
  • In the same area, visit the Melanesian gift shop (PNG is part of Oceania’s sub-region “Melanesia”) or the jewelry shop which has more than just shiny objects: for example, you will there also find the typical, local bags called “Bilum
  • Grab a last SP, SP gold, Ice Beer or Export in the Airport Café (they have non-alcoholic beverages as well as some snacks too)
  • After entering the airside area, you’re restricted to one small souvenir and duty-free shop (you can also buy duty free before immigration and get it sent to your gate) and a tiny snack bar. On one of the walls there is, however, a nice infograph of the famous , 96km long Kokoda track which is well worth spending a few minutes looking at. Who knows you might get some ideas for your next trip to Papua New Guinea?

Airport Facts and Ratings

Airport Name Jacksons International Airport
Website n/a
IATA Code POM
Design LateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Shopping LateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Toilets LateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Overall LateDeparture.com Plane Award Point

[Picture from LateDeparture – all rights reserved]

  • Tatatat

    This is also One of the worst airports in the world