NIUE CONTINUES EFFORTS TO WOO AN AIRLINE

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ALOFI, Niue (March 26, 2001 - Niue Economic Review/PINA Nius Online)---Niue is casting its net wide in a bid to lure an airline to serve the island.

It follows the cancellation of Royal Tongan Airlines’ Auckland-Niue-Auckland Boeing 737 flight, which was crucial to Niue's efforts to develop tourism.

According to a government spokesperson, officials from Niue are in New Zealand talking to Origin Pacific Airways in Nelson, Air New Zealand, Polynesian Airlines, Freedom Air and Air Rarotonga.

But reliable sources indicate airlines remotely interested in providing services want big financial backing before committing their planes.

Niue does not have sufficient revenue to subsidize an airline and New Zealand is reluctant to get involved without an independent air services report and a feasibility study.

However, Niue is reported to be offering airlines duty free fuel, and a landing fees waiver.

In the airline deal negotiated by Niue last year the island government lost $400,000 to Coral Air, which failed to provide any aircraft or offer any services.

New Zealand was critical of Niue's lack of a feasibility study or business plan for the Coral Air debacle.

It has now been confirmed that Auckland airline consultant Norman McFarlane is researching Niue's situation but his report will not be available until June.

A weekly link service -- Tonga-Niue-Tonga by Air Fiji is likely to remain. A Shorts 360 owned by Royal Tongan Airlines may continue the service when it regains operation certification.

About 20 passengers heading to Niue are now in Tonga waiting for an Air Fiji flight to Niue tomorrow.

Stranded passengers on Niue will be taken back to Tonga on the return flight.

For additional reports from the Niue Economic Review, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Magazines/Journals/Niue Economic Review.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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