Tuvalu has been very unfortunate for so many years to have only one air link exit and this was through Fiji. Tuvalu has an exclusive agreement with Air Fiji as the sole airline that operates between Fiji and Tuvalu. This means that to travel overseas, you have to go through Fiji.
Towards the end of last year, 2017, the Government of the Republic of Kiribati decided to open up a new air link to enable Tuvaluans to have a new option to exit to other overseas countries. This is through the operation of its national carrier, Air Kiribati Limited.
Thus, a Kiribati Government delegation which included Air Kiribati high officials arrived in Tuvalu to discuss with government about opening up a new air link between Tuvalu and Kiribati. This air link will also provide a new exit for Tuvalu travelers to continue further to other overseas countries like, Australia, New Zealand, other Pacific countries and also Asia, Europe and the Americas.
(Members of the delegation from Kiribati at the Funafuti Lagoon Hotel and Rev Dr. Kitiona Tausi)
The Kiribati delegation met with government officials and an Air Service Agreement was signed which allow Air Kiribati to operate between Tuvalu and Kiribati. The commercial agreement that will detail the operation is yet to be discussed between the Tuvalu Government and the Air Kiribati Limited. If everything goes well, it is possible that the inaugural flight between Kiribati and Tuvalu may take place in February or in early March 2018.
Air Kiribati plans to operate its new aircraft, DASH 8 that can carry a maximum capacity of 37 passengers and freights. The Government of Kiribati has also a plan to operate to Fiji and negotiations with the Government of Fiji is continuing. If this arrangement is successful, it is possible that Air Kiribati will have a much lower airfare compared to what Air Fiji is levying.
(Air Kiribati’s DASH 8 Aircraft parking at the Funafuti International Airport)