15 Oct 2003

Kiribati president seeks new deal for airline

4:44 pm on 15 October 2003

The Kiribati president, Anote Tong, says he wants to renegotiate the lease of Air Kiribati's ATR-72 which is used for the airline's international service.

The plane has been leased from the French company for just over a year, but Mr Tong says the cost of more than 100 thousand US dollars a month is no longer affordable.

"We are paying considerably more for the same type of aircraft than other airlines in the region operating the same type of aircraft. We're wondering how this can be possible when we're in fact leasing direct from the manufacturers as opposed to those other airlines which are leasing from leasing companies as we understand."

Mr Tong says the best choice would be to suspend the lease but they would still be liable for the three year agreement.

Mr Tong says given Kiribati's remote location and its widespread islands, cancelling the international airline service would be a very last resort.