NEW CALEDONIA NEWS

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Wednesday, September 1, 1999
PINA Nius Online

ALMOST 200,000 INTERNATIONAL AIR PASSENGERS TO NOUMÉA, JANUARY – JULY.

NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (September 1, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---Some 196,959 passengers transited New Caledonia's only international airport, Tontouta, according to official January-June statistics quoted in the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes.

New Caledonia's flag carrier, Air Calédonie International, came in first, carrying 65,950 passengers for the six-month period, followed by Air France (57,211), Continental Micronesia (34,466) and AOM French airline (26,929).

Other companies using Tontouta on regional routes include Qantas, Air New Zealand, Solomon Airlines and Air Vanuatu.

5,500 INTERNET, OVER 20,000 MOBILE PHONE USERS IN NEW CALEDONIA

NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (September 1, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---Internet and mobile phone users have now reached 5,500 and over 20,000 respectively in New Caledonia, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The statistics were released during the weekend following a telecommunications trade show held in Nouméa last week, where sales boomed for technologically advanced telephones, faxes and Internet connection packages.

According to the latest statistics collected, New Caledonian residents are now turning to cheaper Internet technologies, which reduce the current hourly rate to France to $12.00.

NEW CALEDONIAN RADIO OPERATOR CONTACTS MIR STATION

NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (September 1, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---A ham radio operator in New Caledonia managed to contact the Russian Mir space station throughout August, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

From his Anse-Vata (Nouméa) home, Eric Pesqué's hobby is to contact radio amateurs around the world -- and beyond.

During the latest Mir mission, on which French astronaut Jean-Pierre Haigneré and two Russians took part, Presqué got in touch with Mir several times, using state-of-the-art equipment (a 100-watt transmitter and a homemade antenna).

Using his computer to establish the most favorable times for wave communication, he talked to Haigneré, sometimes for as long as four minutes uninterrupted.

"He asked me where I was calling from and what my job was. We talked for nearly four minutes. It was just like the phone. The quality was really exceptional," Pesqué said.

"So I told him I lived in New Caledonia and that he had to come and visit when he comes back down to earth. It was all very relaxed.

"I'm really lucky I was in New Caledonia. In metropolitan France, this would never have been possible, because of interference there due to too many ham radios."

Haigneré and the two Russian astronauts returned to earth late last week aboard their Russian Soyouz space ship.

"Now I really want to meet him. During our last conversation, he gave me his e-mail address. So next time I go to France, I'll send him a message and maybe pay him a visit. I've got thousands of things to tell him," Pesqué said.

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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