AIR KIRIBATI, AIR NAURU READY TO BATTLE FOR CENTRAL PACIFIC SKIES

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TARAWA, Kiribati (Nov. 18, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---Air Kiribati and Air Nauru are shaping up to battle on neglected air routes linking the North Pacific and South Pacific.

It could see both airlines reviving return services between Majuro (Marshall Islands), Tarawa (Kiribati) and Nadi (Fiji) that were dropped by Air Marshall Islands.

This would cut the need for travelers to make much more expensive flights via Honolulu.

Air Kiribati's ATR72 turbopop is now believed to be at Nadi completing certification to enable the airline to finally launch its much delayed international services.

Meanwhile, Air Nauru is believed to be refinancing ahead of expanding its services, including using its Boeing 737-400 jet in direct competition with Air Kiribati.  

Air Kiribati is believed planning to fly its ATR72 initially Tarawa (Kiribati)-Majuro (Marshall Islands)-Tarawa-Funafuti (Tuvalu)-Nadi (Fiji) return.

Air Nauru, which currently operates its Boeing 737-400 between Tarawa and Nadi return, has been discussing starting a Brisbane-Nauru-Majuro-Tarawa-Nadi and return route.

Air Nauru officials have held talks in Majuro, to where Air Nauru once operated.

John Goulding, Air Nauru’s regional manager based in Melbourne, told the Marshall Islands Journal newspaper last week that the airline is going through a refinancing process.

This is not expected to be completed until Christmas, and the possible Majuro service would not be launched until early in the new year, he said.

Goulding said: "However, I can tell you that the airline felt so positive about the route that we specifically had Majuro included on our Australian air operators license, which was renewed on Sept. 30 for a further three years."

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

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