Andrzej Jeziorski/SINGAPORE

New Caledonian carrier Air Caledonie International (Aircalin) is trying to raise finance to fund the acquisition of an Airbus A330 to develop its long-haul network.

The carrier is talking to unnamed French financial institutions to fund the purchase of the new aircraft under France's Pons law, which declares money loaned to ventures in French territories to be tax deductible. "It's a French law giving a tax incentive for investments in French territories," says Aircalin marketing manager Michael Regi.

Regi says Aircalin plans to buy only one aircraft, but may acquire more later. The new A330 will replace the carrier's recently acquired Airbus A310-300, taken on a three-year lease from Airbus Industrie for use on flights between Noumea, New Caledonia, and Osaka, Japan (Flight International, 25 April-1 May). The aircraft is also used on routes to Auckland, Papeete and Tahiti.

The A310's three-year lease may be cut short if Aircalin acquires the A330 before the full three years is up, says Regi.

The A310 lease was intended as a springboard for long-haul services, the airline says. The carrier hopes to introduce the A330 in 2002.

Once the A330 is in service, it will begin operating between Noumea and Tokyo. According to Regi, this service will replace a current Air France service to Noumea via Tokyo.

The Air France flight will stop in Japan and the Tokyo-Noumea route will be operated by Aircalin on a shared code.

The airline also operates a Boeing 737-300, serving destinations in Australia and New Zealand, and a de Havilland Canada Twin Otter, operating between Wallis Island and Futuna. Both aircraft will remain in service for the foreseeable future.

Source: Flight International