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SUVA, Fiji Islands (December 6, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---Air Fiji has launched an ambitious plan to capture more regional destinations.

Currently serving Tuvalu and Tonga -- since it started flying regionally in September -- Fiji's domestic carrier is targeting the addition of five more regional destinations in the new year. They are: Kiribati, Niue, Vanuatu, Samoa, and Wallis and Futuna.

Manager Regional Services Arthur Whippy said the airline has already started negotiations with Kiribati and Niue. "We hope to start flying there early in the new year using our Embraer Brasilia," he said.

The fast 30-seater aircraft -- the airline's most recent acquisition -- currently operates from Suva's Nausori Airport:

Asked about how negotiations have gone, Whippy said the negotiations are almost complete with Kiribati and the airline is confident it will be given the go ahead. "If everything goes according to plan, we should be flying there in February."

As for Niue, Whippy said that negotiations have just begun. But the airline is optimistic it can "pull this off." And again, if everything goes according to plan, Air Fiji hopes to start operating a Nausori/Tonga/Niue service in February.

Whippy said the airline also hopes to start negotiations with the various authorities in Vanuatu, Samoa, and Wallis and Futuna early in 2000.

"We're looking at these destinations seriously. If we pull these routes, we'll definitely be looking at acquiring another aircraft to service these destinations," he said.

Air Fiji's thinking is that there is a future operating frequent trips to regional destinations with a small, fast, comfortable prop-jet like the Brasilia. With 20 to 30 passengers it can make money in circumstances which for the bigger jets would be unprofitable.

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