29 Aug 2011

French experts appointed to help with New Caledonia outer island transport woes

12:11 pm on 29 August 2011

Two French ministers have appointed experts to help New Caledonia deal with outer island transport issues following the fatal shootings near the airport on Mare earlier this month.

The announcement was made in Noumea by the overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, and the transport minister, Thierry Mariani, shortly after the end of a two-day visit by the French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mrs Penchard says the problems surrounding air and ship services have to be solved as they have enslaved the outer islands.

The violence on Mare, which Mr Sarkozy described as a cancer, erupted amid a prolonged dispute over air fare hikes that led to long airport blockades.

Mr Mariani says the experts will analyse the financial situation of the domestic carrier, Air Caledonie, and study the fare structure to suit a public service.

He says proposals will be drawn up but for the local government to make decisions.