View Full Version : Palau Micronesia Air to Darwin?

12th Dec 2003, 15:02
Guam Pacifc Daily News

Palau Micronesia Air

KOROR, Palau -- Palau Micronesia Air aims to take to the skies in April, and begin offering a meaningful alternative to Continental Micronesia in the Western Pacific.

With the Palauan full moon flag featured on the tailfins of its two leased Boeing 737-300s, the homegrown airline plans to fly from Palau to Yap, Saipan and Guam, and then on to Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. The airline also would serve Manila, Tokyo and possibly Darwin, Australia.

"For the first time in Micronesia's history, we, as a people, in both the public and private sectors, have invested our own funds into creating our own airline," said Alan Seid, the airline president.

The airline's December launch date was postponed because Air New Zealand, which has agreed to lease, maintain and initially operate the 737-300s for Palau Micronesia Air, had prior operational commitments, said airline CEO James Bradfield.

In another key agreement for the start-up airline, Japan Airlines has committed to using Palau Micronesia Air to bring its customers throughout Micronesia.

But by all estimates, Palau Micronesia is entering a difficult market where deep-pocketed Continental Airlines has survived. In fact, according to the airline's own business plan put together by Toronto-based Moncrieff Management Ltd., Palau Micronesia Air would be marginally profitable in its first years and vulnerable to an aggressive response from Continental.

Bradfield said, from his standpoint, Palau Micronesia Air is not going head to head with Continental and aims to develop other segments of the market not pursued by Continental. He views Palau Micronesia Air as enhancement airline service to the region and Continental Micronesia as a stabilizing economic force. Palau Micronesia Air's bottom line is the belief there is more traffic out there.

To start, the business plan states $5 million in capital is needed. Bradfield said he is confident the needed funds will be raised by April.

Japanese tourism industry leaders have kicked in $1 million, according to Seid. States in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Palau government also have put in money, along with private investors in the islands. Because of its wide support in the islands, the airline name was recently changed from Palau Air to Palau Micronesia Air.

The first plane, to arrive in April, is expected to be used for travel throughout Micronesia, visiting most islands at least twice a week, and also will land in Manila and Darwin, if efforts to open Australia to flights come to pass, Bradfield said.

Darwin, a northern Australian city just three hours from Palau, is viewed as another potential tourist market for Palau and Micronesia.

The second plane would come online in October and commence direct flights to Tokyo.