French Polynesian government accuses Air Tahiti of 'blackmail' over axing of routes

French Polynesian government angered at Air Tahiti axing loss-making routes.
An Air Tahiti Airlines ATR 72 aircraft at Papeete airport in 2019. Photo credit: Getty

The French Polynesian government is alarmed at the decision by Air Tahiti to drop 26 loss-making routes.

The domestic airline said it would retain only 20 destinations of its network because of the impact on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country's transport minister Jean-Christophe Bouissou said this drop of service amounted to taking the population of the entire islands hostage.

He also described the airline's call for a government subsidy as blackmail, saying the carrier should seek to broaden its capital base.

The government's stake in the carrier is 14 percent.

Mr Bouissou warned a failure to restore the links would force the government to set up a new airline.

He asked for a meeting with the manager of Air Tahiti this week.