Banaban Voice

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Fiji Sun 11/9/2009

Our Airline from Kiribati touched down at the Nadi International Airport for the first time on Saturday at around 4:15pm.

The airline was contracted by Air Kiribati to service its weekly Tarawa/Nadi route and operates two B737-300 aircraft registered VH-NLK and VH-INU.

Two fire trucks stood guard and sprayed water on the airplane before it moved to Gate one.

The passengers were greeted by the serenaders and Air Terminal Service representatives.

There were 42 people on board including the two pilots and the airline crew.

Republic of Nauru Minster of Health, Justice and Sports Matthew Batsiua said the flight has been long time coming.

Mr Batsiua said negotiations between the Government of Nauru and Kiribati had been ongoing for some time.

He was one of he passengers on the historical flight.

"To finally see that happen is a really good thing," Mr Batsiua said.

"It does provide good connection for the people of Kiribati to Nauru to the south and to Australia and Solomons.

"So in the end I guess it does provide some options for the people of Kiribati."

Mr Batsiua said whenever there is an increase in air service a good impact on tourism is experienced by all.

"I know Fiji depends a lot on tourism so this is actually a good thing for Fiji's economy," he said.

"The policy means less regulations that's all part of the modern world now whether we like it or not.

"It does provide less regulation which means that air service provider can come freely to Fiji which will be good for other industries as well."

Mr Batsiua appreciated the welcome ceremony.

"We went through a fire trucks ceremony," he said.

"I've never been through such ceremony before so to be part of it to be a passenger was fantastic.

"I would like to thank all the staff here at Nadi Airport," he said.

He said the flight from Kiribati to Fiji took three hours.

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