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PAPE‘ETE, Tahiti, French Polynesia (February 27, 2002 – Tahitipresse)---Upon returning from a trip to Paris, French Polynesia President Gaston Flosse said Tuesday that the French government is responsible for maintaining Air Lib Paris-Pape‘ete flights against all odds and that this has made it impossible for local airline Air Tahiti Nui to get landing rights in the French capital.

Flosse said, as a result, he will go to the Pape‘ete Administrative Court in an effort to obtain financial compensation from France.

"We tried in vain to negotiate with Air Lib on code-share agreements. No meeting between the two airlines has taken place since January 28th. Air Lib said unofficially that they would like to stop flying to Pape‘ete because they keep on losing money on this route. I believe the French minister of transports, Jean-Claude Gayssot, asked the airline to maintain its flights to Pape‘ete until the next French elections," said Flosse.

The President added that Air Lib had asked Air Tahiti Nui to charter Air Lib planes and that this was "out of the question."

"Air Lib also proposed to continue flights to Pape‘ete with a loan and a banking guarantee from the government of French Polynesia. Their proposal also included hiring all their employees in Pape‘ete and Los Angeles and renewing the Air Lib catering contract in Los Angeles.

"All these conditions are unacceptable", said Flosse.

He stressed the fact that Air Lib could stop flights to Pape‘ete as early as March 15th.

Meantime, "Bora Bora 2," an Air Tahiti Nui Airbus leased from the U.S. company ILFC will arrive in Tahiti March 10th. The brand new Air Tahiti Nui Airbus, "Mangareva," will arrive at Faa‘a-Tahiti International Airport in April.

For additional reports from Tahiti Press, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Sources: Agence Tahitienne de Presse.

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