17 Jun 2014

Queries in Kiribati about a pilot shortage

2:29 pm on 17 June 2014

A former Kiribati cabinet minister has challenged Air Kiribati executives to explain why so many of its pilots have resigned and taken up jobs elsewhere.

Tetabo Nakara told Kiribati Independent that Air Kiribati is having serious problems, some of which are being kept from the public.

He says there have been cutbacks in domestic flights and he puts this down to a pilot shortage.

Mr Nakara says there are reports that local pilots who have resigned and left Kiribati are now working in Fiji, Tonga or the Marshall Islands.

He says when he was Minister of Education the cost of one pilot's training overseas would cover the scholarships of four students.

Mr Nakara says training pilots is costly and now they are using their skills in other countries with the Kiribati taxpayer missing out.

The chief executive of Air Kiribati, Iosabata Namakin, has so far refused to comment on the issue.