5 Jun 2009

Call to extend competition in regional air services

7:52 am on 5 June 2009

A conference in Auckland has been told Pacific skies should be opened up to competition to fully realise the region's tourism potential.

The suggestion came from Meg Poutasi of the Pacific Co-operation Foundation, which organised the Pacific Wave: Weathering the Economic Storm conference.

Ms Poutasi says tourist traffic would not increase significantly unless aviation markets were liberalised.

She says those countries, such as Samoa that had allowed competition, were now reaping the benefits of increased tourism.

Pacific Blue's General Manager Commercial, Adrian Hamilton-Manns, told the conference that his airline's joint venture with the Samoa Government, Polynesian Blue, had been profitable from year one, and returned 7 million US dollars in its 3rd year, last year.

Mr Hamilton-Manns says this is because low-fare carriers bring competition and increased traffic, which his airline would like to extend across the region.