10 Mar 2006

Nauru buys new plane following loss of previous aircraft

2:24 pm on 10 March 2006

The Government of Nauru says it has purchased a new aircraft to replace the Boeing 737 impounded by the United States EXIM Bank last December.

The EXIM Bank repossessed the plane, which gave Nauru the only air link, because the government-owned airline had failed for several years to meet debt repayments.

Nauru had tried to buy its plane back but the Nauru Transport Minister, Dr Kieren Keke, says their attempts had been continuously rebuffed by the EXIM Bank.

Dr Keke had also indicated that the Bank wanted issues such as the outstanding debt cleared as part of any sale.

He says, as a result, their focus shifted and Nauru has now bought another aircraft.

Dr Keke says the new plane should be in service by next month.

He says the purchase has been made possible by assistance from Taiwan, believed to be at least ten million US dollars.

Since the repossession Nauru has run just a skeleton air service - using charters, it has flown return flights once a week to Australia and Fiji.

Meanwhile, EXIM has indicated that it has had many expressions of interest in the former Air Nauru aircraft and will complete the tender process in late April.