Tuesday, March 5, 2024
HomeAirline NewsAir Tahiti To Wet Lease DHC-6 Twin Otter

Air Tahiti To Wet Lease DHC-6 Twin Otter

Air Tahiti will lease two DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft from Swiss operator Zimex Aviation to operate two routes to the Marquesas Islands.

Air Tahiti (VT) will lease two DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft to operate air services to two destinations in the Marquesas Islands. The decision follows a report by French Polynesia’s civil aviation regulator, which deemed it too risky to operate both routes with single-engine aircraft. Let’s take a closer look at the details of this story.

When it comes to flying relatively long distances between two cities, passengers may feel safer in a twin-engine aircraft than a single-engine aircraft, especially if the aircraft is flying over seas.

French Polynesia’s civil aviation regulator had the same idea for the two routes currently operated by Tahiti Air Charter. The airline regularly flies single-engine Cessna Caravans from Papeete to the two islands of the Marquesas Islands, Ua Pou and Ua Huka. However, the French Polynesian government has decided to hand over the routes to Air Tahiti, which will lease two De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters to serve the destinations.

Swiss operator Zimex Aviation will be the lessor and services will operate five times a week from mid-November. Under the agreement signed by French Polynesia Vice President Jean Christophe Bouissou and Air Tahiti CEO Manate Vivish, Zimex Aviation will operate the two routes until 2026.

Zimex Aviation operating two routes is positive news for passengers, but not for the government, which will suffer financially handing over the routes to Air Tahiti and thus to a Swiss wet-lease operator.

However, the government has a plan in sight. By 2026, when the agreement with Zimex Aviation ends, the government will upgrade the Ua Pou and Ua Huka airstrips. Then Air Tahiti will replace the Twin Otter with the new Italo-French ATR 42-600S, where the “S” stands for “short”. The ATR 42-600S is the latest variant of the ATR 42-600 and is currently under development.

The new regional aircraft is the perfect solution for Air Tahiti to operate safely at Ua Pou and Ua Huka because, as the noun suggests, it can take off and land on runways shorter than 800 meters. In fact, the runway at Ua Pou is 830 meters long, while the Ua Huka runway is even shorter at 755 meters.

Air Tahiti is a regional commuter carrier whose main hub is Papeete Faa’a Airport (PPT). Its business model capitalizes on the geography of its home country, offering an extensive intra-island hopping network of 30 destinations across French Polynesia.

Manate Vivish, the carrier’s CEO, said Air Tahiti is experiencing a massive post-pandemic recovery in domestic passenger traffic and forecasts total passenger numbers for 2022 of around 900,000 people, equal to the airline’s pre-COVID passenger numbers.

According to ch-aviation, the airline’s current fleet consists of ten aircraft. Of these, one is inactive and one is leased with wet; both aircraft are ATR 72-600. The remaining eight include two ATR 42-600s and six ATR 72-600s. The average age of the fleet is 7.7 years and the nine aircraft owned have an estimated value of US$85.72 million. Air Tahiti also has two ATR 42-600S aircraft on order, the first of which is expected to be delivered in 2025.

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