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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 4) – A Fiji politician on the campaign trail yesterday lashed out at the telecommunication and airline services on Rotuma upon returning from the island.

[PIR editor’s note: Rotuma Island is the northernmost island in Fiji, far to the northwest of the two larger islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.]

United Peoples' Party president Mick Beddoes said despite paying one of the highest domestic airfares in Fiji, Rotumans and visitors to the island were subjected to the most pathetic and unprofessional service he had ever experienced.

He said some of the experiences relayed to him by the people in the last week were unbelievable and his own experience over the three days he spent in Rotuma made it obvious that the airline was going through some serious problems or lacked the required expertise to allocate aircraft to service their routes in a reasonable and professional manner.

Air Fiji services the Rotuma route.

The airline's spokesperson Shaenaz Voss said they were not undergoing any mechanical repair of planes but their company policy was to have only one flight to Rotuma per week.

Ms. Voss said this happened because there were not enough passengers always and they could not afford to fly empty planes to the satisfaction of some of the customers.

She said they had supplementary flights in the weekends if the number of passengers was economical.

Mr. Beddoes said in the space of three days in Rotuma, flights were cancelled, reinstated many times over and people could have even missed their booked flights with a FJ$730 [US$409] fare.

April 5, 2006

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