NEW ZEALAND TO SUBSIDIZE TONGA, SAMOA AIR SERVICE

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Key says move is consistent with wider foreign aid programs

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 9, 2009) – New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key says it’s important for his country to help Pacific islands countries like Samoa and Tonga by underwriting air services to these destinations.

The Prime Ministers of both Samoa and Tonga have raised the issue of Air New Zealand continuing its services to these countries with Mr Key following signs that the national carrier may discontinue some of these routes.

Mr Key says the governnment’s move to underwrite the continuing services is consistent with the government’s wider foreign aid programme.

"In the case of Tonga and Samoa, they are relatively small Pacific island nations that rely heavily on their air services. Without a continuation of those air services, it would have put at risk their tourism industry, and we felt that it was an important step that the New Zealand government could make in supporting our friends in the Pacific to provide an underwrite for those air services."

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