More Air Tahiti staff to join strike

5:30 pm on 18 May 2016

Some staff at Air Tahiti are continuing to strike over plans to reduce flights to outer islands in French Polynesia.

An Air Tahiti plane

An Air Tahiti plane Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Air Tahiti is facing losses due to a drop in air traffic, meaning possible job cuts and pay reductions for some staff.

Today's flights to the Gambier Islands, and one to Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands, have been cancelled as a result of the strikes.

Publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique magazine Alex du Prel said the territory's only domestic airline was looking to reduce flights to cut losses.

"We have 67 island with airports. Some of the outer islands used to get a plane a week and they want to cut it down to a plane every two weeks, or cut by half, because there is not enough traffic to fill the planes and they are having losses.

Some Air Tahiti ground staff have been striking for the past five days over the cuts.

Mr du Prel said staff don't want to accept a pay cut and want to be paid full time - even if they're only able to work part time.

"Now it's the stewards and stewardesses and pilots too, who want to strike because the airline wants to cut down on overtime, reduce you know some of the pay - would be about 20 percent. So they're calling a strike for tomorrow."

He said around 20 to 30 key staff were striking - around one or two on each island.

Mr du Prel said for people who didn't visit the outer islands the strikes would not impact them, but it could be a problem for tourists.

"If you're in Tahiti... and you can't get home because there's no plane, or if you're a tourist in a fancy hotel on the outer islands and you have to get back to Tahiti to catch your flight back either to Australia, New Zealand or the States, Japan, you're going to get furious. So it's a problem."