CHRISTMAS ISLE CELEBRATES RESUMED AIR SERVICE

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Fiji’s Air Pacific back after two-year hiatus

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 25, 2010) – Fiji National airline Air Pacific raised the hopes of islanders in remote Christmas Island when flights resumed this week after a lapse of two years.

Open arms, wide smiles and relief greeted national airline staff and the local media who landed on the world's largest atoll early Wednesday morning.

Even the owners of seven tourism properties - scheduled as stopovers for the visitors - were keen on telling their stories, eager to share the grim outlook of two years prior.

Tawita Temoku, the Minister for Line and Phoenix Islands summed it well when he said, "Empty rooms and a sluggish industry. Life and business slowed down drastically when Air Pacific stopped flying here."

"We only had charters from Honolulu, Hawaii. But that only carried 17 passengers and was very irregular. Tourism was badly affected, people lost jobs."

"Everyone was looking forward to this day. We are hoping that the recommencement will bring in much needed tourists. We are truly thankful."

Kiritimati is 4.5 hours flight from Nadi. It is well known for adventure fishing and bird watching.

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