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By Walter Nalangu Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

YAREN, Nauru (August 14, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---Air Nauru chairman and chief executive Ken McDonald yesterday agreed that the airline has had problems but said things are going to get better.

Mr. McDonald, speaking to journalists in Nauru ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ summit meeting, said Air Nauru:

§ plans to expand services north into Micronesia again, starting with resuming the Nauru-Pohnpei-Guam-Manila route;

§ plans to get a second jet to support its current busy Boeing 737-400.

Mr. McDonald took over Air Nauru's top job about three months ago and is its first non-Nauruan chairman. He has been given the job of restructuring the airline and ensuring it has a secure future.

Mr. McDonald said that a lot of things have been said in the media about the airline recently, but he has no troubles with that because a lot of it was correct.

He said: "Just recently, up until ten days ago, the airplane was on the ground for about four weeks. This problem was sorted out, and the airplane is back in the air, and we're now beginning to provide our service.

"We've still got a long way to go in the airline to become really professional. But it's a matter of training people and getting people to be proud of who they work for and who they represent."

He said Air Nauru will get the appropriate capital funding from the government to ensure it operates as a professional airline as required by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia. He said it is important that Air Nauru complies with the authority's rules and regulations.

On expansion plans, Mr. McDonald said: "By March next year, we will have decided what aircraft we will be getting, but it will be one of the Boeing family."

Air Nauru flies to Melbourne, Australia; Tarawa, Kiribati; and Nadi, Fiji as well as a charter flight to Norfolk Island.

It had to suspend flights to Guam, Pohnpei and Manila. But Mr. McDonald is confident that Air Nauru will re-enter those markets again by October.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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