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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Dec. 13) - French Polynesia’s domestic carrier Air Tahiti has added a new ATR-42-500 turboprop plane equipped with leather seats to its fleet as part of its ongoing renovation program.

This is the second replacement aircraft to join the Air Tahiti fleet since last May.

The latest arrival cost 1.3 billion French Pacific francs (US$14.8m/€10.9m).

Christian Vernaudon, Air Tahiti’s CEO, announced that "the airline is going to invest 50 million French Pacific francs (US$568,000/€419,000) to install leather seat it is five (other) planes."

The Reverend Christophe baptized the new plane "Raihau" (Peaceful Sky, in Tahitian), during ceremonies held on the night of December 9 at Air Tahiti’s hangar at the Tahiti-Faa’a International Airport.

A team of four Air Tahiti pilots and two flight engineers flew the new ATR from the French aircraft manufacturer’s factory in Toulouse. The trip took five days to fly the plane to Tahiti via Bastia, Luxor, Muscat, Singapore, Darwin, Cairns and Apia. The new aircraft replaces an eight-year-old plane.

Air Tahiti has experienced an average yearly growth of 7 to 10 percent since 1980. The airline flies to 42 islands and atolls throughout French Polynesia, the shortest flight being 15 km (9.3 miles) from Tahiti to Moorea. The longest flight covers 1,600 km (944 miles) from Tahiti to Mangareva in the Gambier Islands.

December 14, 2004


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