POLYNESIAN AIRLINES WIPING OUT ITS DEBT

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APIA, Samoa (June 21, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---Polynesian Airlines has just $US 4.76 million remaining from the $US 43.18 million it once owed after experiencing serious financial problems earlier this decade.

The fiscal crisis forced Samoa's Minister of Finance, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, to take over as board chairman in 1994.

"It is lighter," Tuilaepa said in Parliament Wednesday in reference to the debt.

The debt is being repaid without any adverse impact on other government projects, he noted.

The Government took over Polynesian’s debts and created a new company to run the airline in 1992.

Tuilaepa says Polynesian Airlines made $US 2.79 million in profit during the fiscal year that ended last June, including $US 1.04 million won from a court case against Ansett, which managed Polynesian from 1982 to1992.

Tuilaepa said Polynesian got into financial difficulties because it was seriously under-capitalized when local management took over after Ansett stepped aside in 1992.

Polynesian, which was forced to cancel flights to the U.S. mainland, has now re-entered the United States market by buying 20 seats on Air New Zealand flights and opening an office in California.

The Samoan airline now is considering acquiring a wide-bodied Boeing 767 jet next year.

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