15 Aug 2003

Vanuatu backs PIASA while Fiji is opposed

4:14 pm on 15 August 2003

The man in charge of airports in Vanuatu says the country will sign the Pacific Islands Air Services Agreement at the Pacific Forum in Auckland this week.

Fiji has decided not to sign the PIASA deal which it believes would kill business for Fiji's international airline Air Pacific.

But Desmond Ross, the chief executive officer of Airports Vanuatu Limited, says Vanuatu has always backed PIASA and is expected to give its formal approval any day.

"Despite the fears of Air Pacific or the Fijian Government or any of the other smaller nations that may have ideas of protecting their own national airlines, I think that the common wisdom in the world today is that the most important thing is to grow tourism and provide more seats, more capacity, and more marketing for the nations. The protection of the national airline should be secondary."

Desmond Ross says the lack of a signature from Fiji would be inconvenient to others participating in the deal but would not prevent it going ahead.