18 May 2020

Another New Caledonia airport hit by protest

6:27 am on 18 May 2020

Traditional leaders in Mare in New Caledonia have warned that they will close the island's airport from today in protest at air fare hikes.

The domestic carrier Air Caledonie raised its return fares from Noumea by almost $US7 dollars when it restarted its service earlier this month.

The airline was grounded since March because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The chiefs on Lifou already forced the island's airport to close last Friday, saying it would remain shut until the fare hike was rescinded.

They said the shareholders should wear the extra costs, and not the island's population.

The chiefs on Mare said they would block flights until there was a compromise.

They also said they had demanded the closure of the international airport at the end of January and if the government had acted, internal air traffic and shipping services could have continued without interruption.

Air Caledonie is estimated to have incurred losses of $US5 million because of the Covid-19 induced shutdown.