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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (July 8, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Vanuatu Prime Minister Donald Kalpokas has commended domestic carrier Vanair for adding another plane to its fleet.

Speaking at the first official flight of the Vanair "Dash-8," Kalpokas said the acquisition is a "step forward in improving the quality of service and the transportation system within Vanuatu."

Plans are under way, Kalpokas said, to begin direct flights to New Caledonia.

The Prime Minister was the guest of honor, together with Minister of Education Joe Natuman, on the first official flight of the Dash-8.

The new addition comes just two months after a Vanair airplane crashed in Mele Bay while approaching Bauerfield Airport.

Seven people are still missing and considered dead after the twin-engine plane with 12 people on board crashed on May 8.

Five survivors swam to safety.

A Commission of Inquiry into the incident was established last month.

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