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|Hubs||Faa'a International Airport|
|Headquarters||Faa'a International Airport
Faaa, Tahiti, French Polynesia, France
Air Tahiti (IATA code: VT ; OACI code: VTA) is a French airline company which operates in French Polynesia. Despite its private company status, it provides a public service mission. Its principal base is Tahiti Faa’a Airport.
- 1 Air Tahiti Company
- 2 The network
- 3 Fleet
- 4 Company history
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Air Tahiti Company
The primary purpose of Air Tahiti is scheduled air transportation between the islands of French Polynesia. However, the company provides other related activities in the field of aviation.
Domestic air transportation
From Tahiti, Air Tahiti operates 46 islands of French Polynesia, connecting more than 90 percent of the population. The company provides administrative, school and medical exchanges between Tahiti and her islands, contributing to the development of the Territory.
To meet specific and selective requests, Air Tahiti charters its aircraft for the transport of clients and/or goods. For the latter, some ATRs can be coverted into freighters. The cabin is reconfigured and the seats removed to allow the loading of freight. Thus, Air Tahiti is regularly chartered to transport oysters (from abroad to the islands) or agricultural products (flowers, potatoes, fruit).
Air Tahiti aircraft maintenance is performed at the Technical Center of the company. The maintenance schedule is based on a basis cycle of 400 hours for ATR. Air Tahiti Technical Center expertise is recognized by the manufacturer and by other companies of the region. Thus, in 2009, Air Tahiti has ensured for Pacific Sun (subsidiary of Air Pacific), majors maintenances operations for their ATR.
Airport assistance for the international stopover
Air Tahiti provides assistance for international airlines serving the airport of Tahiti-Faa’a, by carrying out on their behalf: the check-in and boarding of their passengers and their luggage, the catering, the cabin cleaning, the handling and managing of the international freight.
Air Tahiti share capital is 2.76 billion francs XPF.
- Air Archipels : 100% of capital
- Air Moorea : 99.98% of capital
- Air Tahiti Real Estate : 100% of capital
- Bora Bora Navettes : 96.86% of capital
- Air Tahiti Nui : 3.56% of capital
- Kia Ora Village : 4.35% of capital
Numbers and financial data
|Turnover - Passengers||10 088 000|
|Turnover - Freight||688 000 000|
|Residents passengers||550 000|
|International passengers||197 600|
|Employees in permanent contract||1 272|
Air Tahiti covers a network of 47 islands in French Polynesia, an area as large as Europe (5.5 million square kilometres). The nearest island from Tahiti, Moorea, is 15 km away and is connected by plane in seven minutes. The furthest one, Mangareva in the Gambier archipelago, is 1600 km distant from Tahiti and is connected in about 3hr 30min (non-stop flight).
Check their web site
Flying in French Polynesia
The Polynesian network is quite atypical. Among the 47 runways, some are made of tarmac while others (particularly the islands of the East Tuamotu archipelagos) are of crushed coral.
Another significant consideration in the organization of Polynesian airline service is the hour of sunset-only 11 runways are equipped with lighting for night access.
As a security measure, flying over water implies never flying more than a certain distance from a diversionary airstrip. Given this constraint, the path of some flights may not be linear, but indirect. To overcome this constraint, Air Tahiti had to be certified ETOPS (Extended Twin Operation) on aircraft in its fleet. It is also the first company to have achieved this certification on ATR72.
Islands served on ATR (regular flights only) by Archipelago
East Tuamotu-Gambier archipelago
Islands served on Twin Otter (regular flights only) by Archipelago
Islands served on Beechcraft or Twin Otter (unscheduled only) by archipelago
International flight by ATR
Air Tahiti operates 12 aircraft (May 2013): 
|Beechcraft King B200 Air||1||0||8|
Because of the peculiarities of its network, Air Tahiti has chosen ATR aircraft mainly because it best suits the needs of the company. Capable of serving runways below 1200m, the ATR 42 500 and ATR 72 500 offer a service quality similar to the jet and this, with a fuel consumption well below the same class category aircraft, based on 300 knots (550 km/h) cruise speed.
Air Tahiti regularly renews its ATR to maintain a fleet that meets the latest standards of comfort and performance (in August 2010, 3.6 years on average). It will soon adopt a new version of the ATR 42 600 with new engine, new cabin and a new cockpit.
Air Tahiti also operates a Twin Otter that belongs to the territorial government to link the Marquesas islands of Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Pou and Ua Huka (the latter two cannot accommodate the ATR) and a King Air B200 from Air Archipels serving the Tuamotu Archipelago not served regularly by ATR.
The story of Air Tahiti is closely linked to the history of aviation in Polynesia.
The debut by seaplane
Far away from continents, Polynesia was late in developing air routes. It was only during the Second World War that aviation took off in earnest with the construction of the first runway in 1943, in Bora Bora, by U.S. forces. In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Americans intended to protect and supply routes between the U.S. coast and the southwest Pacific.
Regular commercial air service between the islands started in 1950 at the initiative of a handful of entrepreneurs who created the company Air Tahiti. The flights were operated by a 7-seater seaplane, a Grumman Widgeon J-4F. With such low capacity, the need for a second aircraft was quickly apparent.
In 1951, the French Ministry for the Overseas purchased on behalf of the Territory a Grumman Mallard. Gradually, Air Tahiti spread its wings to all the islands of French Polynesia. In June 25, 1953, the first landing in the Gambier archipelago was achieved. In October 1953, the first flight to the Marquesas islands took place with a sea-landing at Taiohae / Nuku Hiva.
In July 1953, TAI (Transports Aériens Intercontinentaux - International Air Transports)' a commercial exploitation of RAI (Régie Aérienne Interinsulaire – Inter-Island Aviation Board), asserted its rights in the mutual allocation of local transports, under an agreement with Air France.
The Territory withdrew the Mallard licence from Air Tahiti in favour of TAI. The Air Tahiti brand then disappeared. RAI operated for the Department of Public Works and Transport. It acquired two Catalina seaplanes to expand links between the islands of French Polynesia. These aircraft with orange livery received a F-OA registration restricted to aircraft operated overseas.
Gradually, the network continued to expand. In 1955, the Austral archipelagos inaugurated seaplane service with the opening of routes to Tubuai and Raivavae. In 1958, the "Régie" became "Réseau" (Inter-Island Aviation Network).
The development of runways
Although seaplanes would seem appropriate to the insular context, it is difficult to find suitable large bodies of water, unhindered and protected from sea swell. Therefore it became necessary to quickly develop runways and airstrips.
With the opening of the Tahiti Faa'a international airport in 1960, Tahiti could host international commercial flights. Thereafter, a vast construction program of runways was launched by the French Government over the whole of French Polynesia. As a result, four runways were built in the 1960s and 27 in the following decade.
In 1970, RAI became Air Polynesia, a subsidiary of UTA. Nicknamed "Air Po" by Polynesians, the company asserted more of its Polynesian identity and implemented regular services throughout French Polynesia and especially to the more remote islands.
In 1986, the former UTA (by then absorbed by Air France) sold Air Polynesia shares to local investors. This assignment gave birth in 1986 to Air Tahiti as we know it today. The new company, wanting to modernize, in 1987 acquired its first ATR 42, marking the beginning of a long collaboration with the aircraft manufacturer ATR.
Air Tahiti has coped with one accident since 1987.
On April 18, 1991, approaching the airport of "Nuku A Taha/ Terre Déserte" in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, following an engine failure, the Dornier 228 F-OHAB flying the route attempted to land near the coast. Ten passengers out of twenty in the aircraft were killed.
1. ↑ "The Fleet" [archive]. Air Tahiti.
- Air Tahiti Magazine N°62
- Air Tahiti Magazine N°66
- Air Tahiti Magazine N°67
- Press Kit Air Tahiti, October 2008
- Press Kit Air Tahiti, May 2009
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Air Tahiti.|
- Official Air Tahiti Website
- Aircraft manufacturer ATR website
- SEAC State Department of Civil Aviation Website