PROBLEMS WITH NEW POLYNESIAN AIRLINES JET

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APIA, Samoa (October 6, 2001 – Samoa Observer)---Problems have struck Polynesian Airlines’ new Boeing 737-800 only six days after it landed in the country.

The airline temporarily stopped flying yesterday when its new "Island of Savai‘i" suffered a "technical fault" and its other plane was in the U.S. getting modifications.

The grounded plane caused a 14-hour delay for passengers flying to Tonga and Fiji.

Polynesian’s Chief Executive Officer, Richard Gates, said there were 29 people who were affected by the delay, and the airline paid for their accommodation to stay in the country while repair work was under way.

The 3:00 a.m. flight to Nuku‘alofa, Tonga, and Nadi, Fiji flew out just after 5:00 p.m. last night.

He said the plane was grounded because the avionics box needed to be replaced.

"We’ve done that and the flights are now back on schedule."

The avionics box is a computer screen, Mr. Gates explained. It was replaced because it was giving out false information.

Meanwhile, Polynesian’s "Island of Upolu" flew to Seattle on Thursday to get winglets installed. The winglets give planes up to four percent more fuel efficiency.

The airline is predicting that the plane will be back in Samoa in two weeks time.

Mr. Gates was also asked about the status of the $7 million Samoa National Provident Fund loan application.

However, he deferred any questions to Polynesian Chairman and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

For additional reports from the Samoa Observer, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa Observer.

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