22 Nov 2012

Reliance on Air Pacific hurting i-Kiribati travellers

5:53 pm on 22 November 2012

Kiribati's Minister for Transport Taberannang Timeon says the monopoly that Fiji's Air Pacific has on key routes in the region has made some international flights unaffordable for i-Kiribati.

In September last year, the Fiji interim government suddenly suspended Air Kiribati's flight between Nadi and Tarawa, which was operated by Nauru's national carrier Our Airline.

Mr Timeon says Fiji has since said the Air Services Agreement did not contain a leasing arrangement clause.

He says there is an increasing level of urgency in Kiribati to reach some agreement with Fiji to resume that flight, because the only choice now is Air Pacific's flight.

"'Their fares as I told you have skyrocketed and most people cannot afford that because Air Pacific monopolises that route now. We've voiced our concerns to the Fiji government, through the interim government, they know our problem, it's affecting our seasonal workers in New Zealand because their fares are so high."

Taberannang Timeon says Kiribati has asked to meet the interim government to try and solve the issue but it hasn't replied yet.