23 May 2011

French Polynesia's president calls for citizens to pay a third of income to save national airline

6:33 am on 23 May 2011

French Polynesia's president, Oscar Temaru, has called for wage earners to buy into a fund to save the territory's carrier, Air Tahiti Nui.

Mr Temaru has called for public servants and private sector employees to voluntarily pay a third of their income into the fund as patriot action is needed to keep the loss-making airline viable.

He says colossal fortunes are being made in French Polynesia and they all go elsewhere.

Mr Temaru says the airline is vital for the tourism industry and the territory cannot stand by and watch as he puts it, planes fall into the water.

The comments have been strongly criticised by the opposition, saying they are empty words and miss the point.