3 Aug 2005

Kiribati debates Air Pacific connection to Tuvalu

10:24 am on 3 August 2005

Kiribati is looking at the option of using Fiji's international airline, Air Pacific to fly from Tarawa to Funafuti in Tuvalu.

At the same time, Air Fiji is currently trying to secure the route through the Tuvalu Government.

Tuvalu's Minister for Transport, Saufatu Sopoanga says they are yet to hear from Kiribati on whether permission would be granted to Air Fiji to land in Tarawa.

PACNEWS reports during discussions with Kiribati government officials recently, Mr Sopoanga was given an indication that the Government was considering which option to pursue.

Kiribati has blamed Tuvalu for the failure of its regional air service which collapsed last year, as they were not given landing rights at Funafuti which resulted in the airline incurring huge losses.

Air Fiji had exclusive rights to service the Funafuti/ Nadi/Nausori route which Air Kiribati needed to keep its operations viable.

The Tuvalu Government has taken the exclusive landing rights away from Air Fiji which it felt was not performing up to expectations.