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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (May 8, 1998 - Marshall Islands Journal)---A media report last week that indicated Air Vanuatu is planning to buy Air Marshall Islands Saab 2000 is not correct, said AMI.

"It's news to me," said new AMI general manager Mark Mackay.

A long term lease for Air Vanuatu to use the Saab is basically completed, Mackay said. "It's 99.9 percent approved."

The hang-up is that since AMI owns the plane, but Air Vanuatu will be operating it, there are some regulatory requirements that have to be met before the lease can go into effect.

"We hope to sign the lease soon," he said. "We're both ready."

The lease period is for six months, with an option to renew. "It helps them and it helps us out," Mackay said of the deal. "It's a good example of cooperation among regional air carriers."

The lease to Air Vanuatu will not reduce AMI's service to Tuvalu, Mackay said. AMI is the national carrier for Tuvalu, which does not have its own airline.

"We will still service Tuvalu by leasing back the Saab from Air Vanuatu," he said.

Currently, Air Vanuatu is using the Saab on an as-needed basis several times a week until the lease is signed, Mackay said.

MARSHALL ISLANDS JOURNAL Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: Fax: 692-625-3136 Tel. 692-625-8143 Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year: US $87.00; International $227.00 (air mail)

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