Opening up overseas flights to Lae will help alleviate congestion at Jackson's International airport in Port Moresby. It will also save Lae business traveller's time and money, including the potential cost of an overnight stay in a Port Moresby hotel.
While an international terminal for Lae has long been discussed, O'Neill included it as part of speech he made at the recent opening of Majestic Seafood's tuna cannery in Lae's Malahang suburb.
"We think that it's a good move because we are getting more and more resource developments over here with a need for fly-in and fly-out and equipment and machinery and so on," Lae Chamber of Commerce president Alan McLay told PNGIndustryNews.net.
"An international terminal will avoid all those delays and extra time going through Port Moresby."
More details on the proposed terminal, including possible development timeframes and capital expenditure estimates, are unknown at this stage.
However, the chamber is separately working on an interim measure - a private sector-led development of an international arrivals and departure lounge at the Nadzab airport.
This will allow for a temporary direct flight route from Lae to Cairns through Airlines Niugini, which can be discontinued once the international terminal is developed.
Costs for this project are still being worked out before various parties are approached for possible funding.
McLay is not expecting the project to be expensive. He said the main costs would be toilets, scanning machines and counters for customs and immigration.
The Morobe provincial government is already expected to chip in some funds while McLay said there was support from the Independent Public Business Corporation, which owns Air Niugini, and from the National Airline Commission.
O'Neill also discussed the plan to develop a 4-lane highway from the Nadzab airport to Lae. While tenders for the highway are still open, Chinese contractors are expected to win most of the work.
PNG's tuna boom
Majestic Seafood's $US38 million tuna processing plant is expected to employ at least 4000 workers although there could be further expansion as PNG targets a growing export trade to Europe.
Malaysia's International Food Corporation and Philippines'' Frabelle Fishing Corporation have two tuna canneries in Lae.
South Korean tuna giant Dongwon, Nambawan Seafoods and China's Zhoushan Hailisheng Pelagic Fishing also have tuna processing projects in this region.
RD Tuna also plans to build a second cannery in Madang.
Thai Union Frozen Products, Century Canning Corporation and Frabelle each own a one-third stake in Majestic Seafood.