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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (July 31,2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---French Polynesia's flag carrier Air Tahiti Nui (ATN) has opened its stock to the public in a bid to collect some 300 million French Pacific Francs (CFP, US$ 2,331,899 million), the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti reports.

Around 40 percent of the sum (117.5 million CFP/US$ 913,327) is to be taken care of by the Territory (which holds 39 percent of the stock), leaving 182.5 million CFP (US$ 1,418,572) to be found.

This is the eighth call for subscriptions launched by ATN. Subscriptions opened last June 15 and will close at the end of August.

At a Board meeting last month, General Manager Nelson Levy said ATN, after analyzing the results of one and a half years of operation, could break even financially two years from now.

Seat occupancy rates for one of its most popular routes, Tahiti-Los Angeles, has steadily increased by 30 percent during the first half of 2000, he said.

Levy however admits that the Japanese routes (to Tokyo and more recently Osaka) seem to need more time to break even.

"Presently, we are carrying 100 to 130 passengers each week, which allows us to cover operating costs. There was an excellent start (on the Osaka destination), but for July, August and September, we are looking at about 50 percent occupancy."

Meanwhile, the recent inception of two more luxury liners late last year is said to have boosted plane traffic to and from French Polynesia by some 20 percent, because passengers (mainly from the United States) are traveling to French Polynesia by Hawaiian Airlines-chartered planes to board the ships at Papeete.

Arrivals statistics at Tahiti-Faa‘a international airport show some 160,000 passengers during the first quarter of 2000, as opposed to 134,000 during the same period last year.

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