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SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, April 29) - A special meeting of New
Caledonia's Congress on Monday resolved to oppose any proposed increase in the
government-owned domestic airline - Air Calédonie's - ticket prices, RFO's
Tél-Nouvelle-Calédonie reports.

The Congress recommended that for the time being, a committee be
formed to look into ways of implementing a possible price increase.

Air Calédonie (AirCal) announced earlier this month that it
would increase the price of domestic transport in a bid to generate further
revenue and save the company from bankruptcy. But the move triggered angry
reactions from local users, who formed into committees.

The domestic airport of Maré in the Loyalty Islands group, has
been blockaded for the past ten days and flights have been unable to operate.

At its Monday meeting, which took place behind closed doors, the
Congress also gave the nod for AirCal to go ahead with its plan, to sell one of
its four ATR-52 planes.

The Congress also urged the Loyalty Islands province to pay some
CPF150 million (US$1.5 million) owed to AirCal.

Another measure was to endorse the report of a review performed
last year of AirCal's affairs by Air France Consulting, the French airline's
consulting arm. The review concluded that AirCal urgently needs to engage into
stringent reforms and examine its cost structure.

AirCal chairman Olivier Razavet earlier admitted the company has
accumulated CPF420 million (US$ 3.8 million) in losses over the past three

Razavet said the downturn was mainly due to the unfavorable
conditions in the world aviation market and the rise in insurance premiums,
which rose from CPF38 million to CPF150 million in two years). He said that
ticket prices must "follow those developments".

April 30, 2003

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