17 Sep 2009

French Polynesia approves high-speed ferry licence

3:27 pm on 17 September 2009

The French Polynesian government has decided to grant a licence for the high-speed ferry King Tamatoa amid a threat of a port blockade.

The president, Oscar Temaru, has told Tahitipresse that the government was unanimous in approving the request by the ship owner, Bill Ravel of New Caledonia, to start a service between Tahiti and the Leeward Islands.

Mr Temaru has praised the vessel, saying he has himself travelled on it between Nice and Corsica.

He has spoken out in favour of competition after last month's threat by the existing operators to block the port of Papeete should the government approve the new venture.

The opposition has criticised Mr Temaru for going ahead with the project when consultations came up with a negative opinion.