New Tahiti airline stirs route debate

2:02 pm on 11 October 2017

There is concern in French Polynesia that competition on domestic airline routes could be to the disadvantage of smaller islands.

Air Tahiti plane

Air Tahiti plane Photo: RNZI/Walter Zweifel

New Caledonia-based businessman Bill Ravel has lodged an application to set up a new airline, called Islands, to compete against Air Tahiti.

Last month, he said he expected to undercut Air Tahiti's fares by 15 to 20 percent.

French Polynesia's transport minister Luc Faatau has told Tahiti's Radio1 that he feared the new airline would only fly to the most lucrative destinations, such as Bora Bora.

He said additional taxes may then have to be levied to sustain unprofitable flights operated by Air Tahiti to many of the 40 smaller islands.

Mr Ravel told Radio1 that apart from the Society Islands, his airline planned to fly to the Austral and Marquesas Islands.

He said the plan was also to fly to the Cook Islands twice a week and to Samoa three times a week.