17 Dec 2007

Grounded planes in Marshall Islands threaten viability of tourist attraction

6:09 am on 17 December 2007

The Marshall Islands top tourist attraction could be forced to close its doors after 11 years of operations, because the national airline hasn¹t had its planes flying in more than two months.

Bikini Atoll is home to a sunken World War II navy fleet that attracts hundreds of scuba divers annually.

It had to cancel visits by dozens of divers in the August-October period when Air Marshall Islands planes were repeatedly grounded with mechanical problems.

Air Marshall Islands officials say they need at least 700 hundred thousand US dollars to fix the two aircraft.

But the government has refused to inject more funding into the ailing airline which is already in default on an existing bank loan.