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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Aug. 25) - Air Fiji rejected Air Pacific's offer to buy the company but the national carrier is holding talks with Sun Air.

Air Pacific and Sun Air are keeping their negotiation under wraps and a decision is expected next month.

Air Fiji chief executive Sialeni Vuetaki said his company welcomed Air Pacific's intention to enter the domestic market. He said Air Pacific had proposed to buy Air Fiji.

Vuetaki said Air Fiji suggested a joint venture or networking arrangements but Air Pacific wanted a 100 percent buy-out, which was rejected.

He said if Air Pacific entered the domestic market after buying Sun Air, the number of operators would remain the same.

Vuetaki said if Air Pacific entered the market as a new operator, all would be affected.

He said cost cutting by way of staff redundancies would be an option.

Vuetaki said Air Fiji could distribute tourists to the region and in Fiji as a trunk distributor to international airlines.

He said Air Fiji was looking at expanding its flights to the Pacific region to enhance the revenue generated from domestic flights.

Efforts to get comments from Air Pacific chief executive John Campbell failed yesterday.

In an earlier statement, however, Campbell had said they were having talks with a local airline.

He did not reveal details, saying that they wanted to keep their agreement confidential.

The Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry applauded the move by Air Pacific.

Chamber president Taito Waradi said it was important to break any type of monopoly and have a free market so consumers could have options.

Waradi said the business community was looking forward to any investment which made traveling convenient and that fares would be affordable to rural dwellers.

August 26, 2005

Fiji Times Online: .

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