Firefighters dispute holdup hampers French Polynesian airport

An Air Tahiti Nui Airbus A340-300 ... hundreds of toursists stranded by the five-day firefighters strike. Image: Air Tahiti Nui

Pacific Media Watch

The end of French Polynesia’s airport firefighters strike has been held up in Tahiti amid a dispute between two unions, Radio New Zealand International reports.

Most grievances have been settled and outer island airports have resumed full services, RNZI reported today.

However, firefighters employed by the airport company at Fa’aa international airport on the main island of Tahiti Nui have yet to agree to return to work.

This has affected the schedule of international flights, said RNZI.

French High Commissioner Rene Bidal expressed concern at the impasse and warned that firefighters ordered to maintain a basic service risked jail if they refused to comply.

The five-day stoppage last week crippled domestic air travel to dozens of destinations and disrupted tourism.

Protocol signed
RNZI had earlier reported yesterday that Air Tahiti Nui was continuing to fly hundreds of stranded travellers across French Polynesia.

A protocol had been been signed to end part of the dispute.

The deal reached was between the civil aviation authorities and publicly employed firefighters.

However, reported RNZI, an agreement also needed to be concluded with striking firefighters hired by private airport operators.

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