14 Jun 2010

Travellers stranded as strike closes Tahiti airport

7:29 am on 14 June 2010

Thousands of travellers are stranded as a strike in French Polynesia has closed Tahiti's international airport for more than three days.

Flights from and to Paris, Los Angeles, Auckland and Tokyo have been cancelled, forcing passengers to stay in hotels at their own cost.

The so-called general strike was called by a group made of 11 unions in a bid to alert the local government and Paris to continued massive job losses and the lack of social security provisions.

Air Tahiti Nui, Air New Zealand, Air France and Hawaiian Air have been affected by the stoppage as striking firefighters at Tahiti's airport have ignored orders by the French high commission to report to work to maintain travel links.

If flights can resume, Air New Zealand can use a Boeing 777 today to start clear the backlog of passengers.

The only international flight to land since the start of the strike was an Air Tahiti Nui Airbus from Los Angeles which had to touch down as it was low on fuel and with the French military providing basic firefighting cover.

The strike has also affected the port and the hospital in Papeete and in the Marquesas islands.