NEWS FROM FRENCH POLYNESIA AND NEW CALEDONIA

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Wednesday, August 4, 1999

PINA Nius Online

PARIS-BASED AOM AIRLINE STRIKE ENDS, PACIFIC PASSENGERS STILL AFFECTED

PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia---A strike at the French airline AOM in Paris ended on Wednesday, RFO-radio reported.

The strike, between pilots who claimed they were due a pay increase and AOM management, severely affected travel between Europe and the French Pacific.

A backlog of waitlisted passengers will still take days to resolve, AOM’s Genevieve Romain told RFO.

"We still have about 300 passengers to take off for the Pacific on the Wednesday flights and those scheduled later this week," Romain said.

"The strike has also cost quite a lot, since AOM had to pay accommodation and expenses for all of these 300 passengers. This means about US$ 100 per passenger per day."

In some cases, AOM considered using other French airline companies connecting Paris to the French Pacific, including Air France, Air Tahiti Nui or Corsair, to get the stranded passengers to their destinations quickly.

"It's already quite disturbing on our Papeete destination, but it's not the worst-affected. The French overseas departments in the French Caribbean suffered much more."

AOM flights scheduled for Noumea and Papeete from Paris were delayed up to 24 hours.

To get to Noumea, passengers had to take charter flights to Vienna, Austria and then go on to Colombo and Sydney.

Another AOM flight that was due to leave Paris on Sunday night to arrive in Noumea on Tuesday was canceled.

SEARCH FOR THREE MISSING STEPPED UP IN MARQUESAS

PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia---French Polynesian authorities stepped up search operations to find three people, including a two-year-old child, who remain missing after their speedboat capsized in the Marquesas last Sunday, RFO-radio reported.

A team of professional divers from Germany, vacationing in the Marquesas, joined the search with army and police personnel.

One teenage passenger was found Sunday by a navy ship following an aerial search of the area.

The passengers’ boat capsized and got moved out of reach of the swimming occupants because the engine was still running, the teenager told police.

"Divers will be dispatched. . . . Combing the nearby beaches is also on the agenda, with the hope they might have gone ashore," a police spokesman said.

"But we have to limit ourselves to the human resources available and bear in mind that divers can only operate 40 to 50 minutes at the time, and maybe a maximum of three to four times a day."

MAINTENANCE COSTS TOTAL 24 PERCENT OF AIR CALÉDONIE TICKET PRICE

NOUMEA, New Caledonia---Maintenance costs account for 24 percent, or 560 million CFP (US$ 5.6 million), of the ticket price on New Caledonia's Air Calédonie, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reported.

This includes regular replacements of costly spare parts for the French-built, 50-seat ATR-42, the majority of the company's fleet.

"Initially, the bill for a propeller is over 10 million CFP (US$ 100,000). But because it's under guarantee, we bring this down to 2.2 million CFP," Air Calédonie technical manager Pierre Cornu explained.

Tires, another costly part, need to be replaced every 550 landings.

Air Caledonie applies a 400-touchdown tire life span policy.

NOUMEA TOWN LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN AGAINST NOISE POLLUTERS

NOUMEA, New Caledonia---Noumea municipality has launched a new war against noise pollution, an increasing problem in the French Territory's capital, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reported.

Noise control in Noumea was regulated by a decree passed two years ago, but until now had not been implemented.

The March 1997 decree stipulates that "every noise caused unnecessarily or by negligence and is likely to affect neighbors health or tranquillity, daily or nightly," constitutes an offense with a maximum fine of 270,000 CFP (US$ 2,700).

This week, in a bid to educate the general public, the Noumea municipality launched a month long advertising campaign.

Although these are no major noise polluters in Noumea (such as large highways, railways or airports) the main message is to call on the public to minimize noise emissions, whether from cars, mopeds or stereos, in order to keep Noumea "a sweet and pleasant town."

"So this means Noumea inhabitants only suffer from noises they produce themselves, that is domestic noises, including those produced by pets," a municipality spokesman said, adding dog barking and howling at night came first on their hit list.

Dog owners were reminded to keep their pets under strict noise control.

Loud volume levels on stereos, televisions or lawnmowers on weekends were also identified.

"To clamp down on decibels is the same struggle as is keeping Noumea clean of litter. It's all about protecting everyone's quality of life," he said.

Noisy domestic activities were also banned under the decree, before 6 a.m. and after 7 p.m., as well as all day on weekends and public holidays.

Campaign promoters in the municipality hope the message will also reduce the number of neighborhood conflicts that often result from a noise problem.

Officials say 1,500 noise-related incidents requiring municipal police intervention are reported each year.

This bulletin was produced by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA). Editor: Patrick Antoine Decloitre For more information, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA Administrator, at pina@is.com.fj

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