29 May 2009

New Caledonia flights to resume after clashes at Magenta

5:25 pm on 29 May 2009

Flights out of the New Caledonian capital are expected to gradually return to normal after violent clashes forced the closure on Noumea's Magenta airport on Thursday.

The clashes stopped flights to the outer islands amid predictions of disruptions in the days to come as the domestic carrier Aircal is trying to clear a backlog created by the unrest.

Yesterday, police used tear gas to dislodge hundreds of members of the USTKE union who had tried to seize the airport as part of an industrial dispute.

Some unionists then cut through the perimeter fence to get onto the tarmac and entered two ATR planes.

The French high commissioner says an explosive device was found in one of the aircraft.

But a small anti-capitalist party in France says the accusation is a lie which will fool nobody.

Reports say 30 unionists arrested yesterday are still in custody.