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Nauru becomes Pacific Central

Airline gateway to the Northern atolls

THE high cost of travel to the Northern Pacific has been a major impediment to the development of a real tourism market in the area despite the huge potential for diving and fishing niche visitors. With an average US$4,600 return fare through Fiji to destinations beyond Kiribati, even businesspeople think twice before venturing into Micronesia.

Most airlines have chosen to hop across the viable routes – Kiritimati in Kiribati and then on to Hawaii once a week for Fiji Airways using a Boeing 737 aircraft. In the early 1990s Air Marshall Islands used a Hawker Siddley 748 twin turbo-prop to connect the region to Nadi International Airport. But high costs due to distance and the inability to carry freight saw an end to the service. Continental of the United States made a brief foray into the market but the costs were too high and there was insufficient traffic on the route.

In the newest attempt to link Micronesia to the world, Nauru Airlines has started a weekly service which will begin in Brisbane on Australia’s east coast and head north-east towards its Central Pacific home. From Nauru its Boeing 737 service will head south-east to Kiribati before flying north to Majuro in the Marshall Islands, Pohnpei and Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Nauru Airlines’ Chief Financial Officer, Nancy Bowden, said it was hoped the service would allow a greater number of visitors – tourists and businesspeople – into the region. The airline was the first in the region to operate jet aircraft in the late 1960s with services through Nausori, Fiji to Brisbane, Australia.

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