PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Sept. 29) - An Air New Zealand Boeing 767-300 aircraft was chartered on Sept. 27 for 130 passengers stranded in Tahiti by a strike against New Caledonia airline AirCalin.

It was the first of two chartered flights necessary to return the passengers to Nouméa.

The passengers became stranded when AirCalin cancelled a Sept. 27 flight from Nouméa to Papeete due to the strike by navigation personnel, said Pascal Redon, AirCalin’s regional representative in French Polynesia.

The Air New Zealand flight left Tahiti at 8:05 p.m., less than an hour later than AirCalin’s normally scheduled Saturday night departure of 7:45 p.m.

"AirCalin decided to assure its Papeete-Nouméa flight by chartering an Air New Zealand Boeing," Redon said. "It arrived at 7:05 pm on the Tahiti-Faa’a International Airport runway. It left an hour later."

Although the chartered flight left Tahiti less than an hour later than the regularly scheduled non-stop AirCalin flight, it arrived in Nouméa much later than normal, he said, due to a stop in Auckland.

The 130 passengers then boarded a second chartered flight, involving a smaller Boeing 737 aircraft, which arrived in Nouméa at 5:45 am Sunday (Sept. 28) Tahiti time and 2:45 am Monday New Caledonia time.

The AirCalin strike began at 12:01 am on Sept. 27 involving two unions, seeking a rationalization of employment operations for navigation personnel.

"Between now and next Saturday, there’s time for things to move and negotiations to advance," said Redon, referring to AirCalin’s one weekly flight to and from Tahiti.

AirCalin, officially Air Calédonie International, was created on Dec. 2, 1983. It opened a weekly Nouméa-Wallis-Papeete flight in 1989. Today it has four planes and serves more than 10 destinations throughout the South Pacific

October 1, 2003



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