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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Oct. 5) – French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru says he wants to build an international airport on Tubuai in the southernmost Austral Islands south of Tahiti.

Revealing his plans during an interview by French daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti, Temaru said such a project would help revive French Polynesia’s economy.

"The north must be opened up with the Marquesas Islands and the south with the Austral Islands," he said. "The best suited island is Tubuai."

Temaru made his remarks during an official visit to Tubai, an island of about 2,000 people located 352 miles due south of Tahiti.

The Austral Islands - Rurutu, Tubuai, Rimatara, Raivavae and Tapa – are spread across 1,280 kilometers of ocean and have a combined population of 6,500. The volcanic islands are sometimes also known as the Tubuai Islands.

Temaru recently called for a revival of a study to build an international airport in the Marquesas Islands, which is the northernmost archipelago in French Polynesia and the closest to Hawaii and the U.S. Mainland.

The Austral Islands of Tubuai and Rurutu, which both have airports for domestic flights by Air Tahiti, are the closest major islands to such southern hemisphere tourism markets for Tahiti as New Zealand and Australia.

"Imagine the potential development in the Austral Islands thanks to an international runway that could handle jumbo jets," Temaru told the newspaper.

An international airport at Tubuai would help Tahiti’s tourism industry, he said.

"The climate in the Austral Islands is the same as the Cook Islands, where this kind of tourism functions very well."

October 6, 2004

Tahitipresse: www.tahitipresse.pf


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