KOROR Palau – A new airline with Palau as its hub is weeks away from carrying passengers and cargo between Palau and new destinations according to its senior executives.
Aviation Matters Inc. which will do business as Pacific Flier will fly an Airbus 310 on the Brisbane-Guam Clark-Koror routes as well as the Narita-Koror route.
Pacific Flier aims to provide a twice-weekly service between Koror and Clark Freeport Zone in the Philippines and Koror and Narita and a weekly service between Brisbane and Guam.
Reggie G. Free investor and president told the Journal on Aug. 6 "We’re about three weeks from doing our first flight … Clark to Palau " which he said is at this point scheduled for Sept. 1. For all routes he said "All our applications are in; we are about 99.9% done."
Clark the former U.S. air base is about 40 miles north of Manila. "There will be a free shuttle bus to Manila provided " Salvador Remoket company attorney said.
As for other flights he said "Things are moving simultaneously elsewhere." The airline is awaiting destination port approval from Shanghai.
The airline said it plans to "add but not to compete for those destinations that the major carrier does not go to and provide new accessibility… ."
The plane will offer 174 economy seats an additional 18 first class seats and different fare classes – depending on the route including a contract worker fare and a group discount.
Remoket said "For marketing purposes and business reasons we cannot [yet] tell you what the fares will be. The fares will be competitive."
The plane has the ability to carry 24 tons of cargo Remoket said which would be contracted out to different agencies. For the Narita route with regard to fish he said "We’re hoping with this airline we can export 20 tons a flight. Is that doable? Maybe not in the first month " he said "But in the near future."
Pacific Flier intends to export tuna reef fish and bottom fish from Palau as well as agricultural products. Its officials said the rates will likewise be competitive. It said the space is urgently needed. "It’s going to help not only the tourism but develop agriculture and fisheries. Agriculture and fishing are the backbone of most economies in any independent country. Tourism is good but a country cannot depend on tourism because it fluctuates so much " Remoket said. "Continental also contributes to the fishing and agriculture industry of Palau so we consider them friends."
In addition products could be imported Free said to Guam and Palau. "The other thing we can offer from Australia is fresh produce."
Remoket said "We’re guided by what we can bring in. … We’ll also include reef fish. That will be very helpful for Palau; local fishermen will be able to benefit. We have a private company set up to work with all the states." Products would be packaged appropriately for export he said.
Pacific Flier Remoket said intended to have friendly relations in the aviation industry in Palau. "We have opened up dialogues with all the airlines in Palau including Continental to see if we can code share and help each other. We don’t want to start a price war; we want to work with them and help the economy of Palau.
"We are at this stage in the middle of talking to Continental [Airlines] " Free said. "We hope to have a working relationship with them as ground handlers."
Free said the other two investors are Rex Banks chief executive officer and previously a pilot and a silent partner also Australian as are Free and Banks. Free said of Banks "He originally set up Air Nauru." Free is no stranger to Micronesia he said. "I’ve done this type of thing before with a cargo plane into Pohnpei."
The airline is solely financed by the three Free said. "We’ve all had to have deep pockets."
However he said "Our infrastructure is not high. There are five people running this airline – the best people in the world."
Additionally reducing costs he said was Pacific Flier’s operating strategy. "We contract everything out."
The airline would offer jobs in Palau Free said. "We’re an airline that wants to employ all locals."
Remoket said the airbus is leased as will be a second aircraft that the company will use. "We basically with the second aircraft made sure that when we need it it’s available right away. I guess you could say we made a reservation."
Pacific Flier held a presentation July 6 for government ministers hotels and tourism industry wholesalers. Aviation Matters also expressed its appreciation to the various government agencies for their efficient and speedy work on all formalities and requirements.
Ngirai Tmetuchl special assistant to President Johnson Toribiong told the Journal "The president assured them he will help them in any way he can like he would help any business. Businesses in the airline industry require a lot of capital which he hopes they have. He hopes that they will succeed."
The Journal was awaiting the launch of Pacific Flier’s Web site and receipt of its flight schedule as the paper went to press. MBJ