MAF in Papua New Guinea – visit by the Swiss Ambassador to PNG
Story and photos by Mandy Glass
On Monday, 16 September 2019, when Papua New Guinea celebrated it’s 44th Independence Day, the Swiss Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Yasmine Zwahlen and her husband Pedro Zwahlen, Swiss Ambassador to Australia visited our MAF operations.
In the morning, they arrived from Goroka with one of our MAF aircraft, on their way enjoying the view of Mt Wilhelm, PNG’s highest mountain peaking through the cloud cover.
After greetings some of our Swiss staff members they were shown our operations and headquarters, including our hangar and the new Redbird Simulator in which both of them had a go under the instruction of our Swiss Crew and Training Manager Markus Bischoff. Mrs. Zwahlen chose to fly over PNG, taking off from Tari and flying towards the 2018 earthquake region while Mr. Zwahlen chose to fly over Lake Thun, his home town in Switzerland. “What a mind-blowing experience,” Mrs. Zwahlen said.
Country Director Todd Aebischer explained some of MAF’s strategic moves, e.g. our transition to a Cessna Caravan single type fleet, the different health partnership programs MAF facilitates and also our appreciation of the Swiss Government’s assistance with aid towards earthquake relief and restoration flights as well as sending Swiss Civil Servants to help with support and training in our IT Department.
The appreciation was also on the side of the Swiss Ambassador, e.g. highlighting the transparency in the report of the aid given towards the earthquake flights. Closing the visit, Mrs. Zwahlen presented the Country Director with the traditional Swiss tool kit, a Swiss pocket knife saying, “We thank you and your team very much for what you have been doing for many years and what you will be continuing to do in the future and we hope to work with you again. Please consider us your friends and we would like to support you in the future as well.”
It was a pleasure to welcome and host the couple which also took much interest in the individual stories of our Swiss families, their different backgrounds and commitment to MAF, also honoring the sacrifices they are making to serve the people of PNG.