Despite the fate of their two previous intended owners, Polynesian carrier is to acquire two replacement aircraft

French Polynesian carrier Air Tahiti Nui will acquire two new Airbus A340-300s, and return its single leased A340-200 after the second -300 arrives.

The three-year-old carrier says that its board of directors has approved the acquisition of the new aircraft for delivery in the first quarter of next year.

The first of the two 294-seaters will be purchased from Airbus with financial support from the French and the French Polynesian governments. The second is scheduled to be leased from International Lease Finance (ILFC) for seven years.

Both aircraft were originally destined for Sabena, which was declared bankrupt last month. They were then both assigned to ILFC which was to lease them to the now-defunct Canada 3000. The airline says its balance sheet "will be very favourably impacted due to the excellent financial terms negotiated".

The carrier is finalising its 2002 summer schedule but will maintain all current services. It operates from its base at Papeete to Auckland, Los Angeles, Osaka and Tokyo.


It plans to add a fourth weekly Los Angeles service in March, a third weekly Japan flight in April and to launch twice-weekly Los Angeles-Paris services when French government approval is obtained.

Air Tahiti Nui says that it is maintaining "good system-wide seat factors" despite the severe industry downturn following the 11 September terrorist attacks in the USA, adding that it expects to carry 180,000 passengers next year, which is 60% more than the this year.

Source: Flight International