An quirky little aviation thought bubble from a regional politician in an interesting and little heard of part of the world, has come to my notice. It seems the President of the Loyalty Islands would like to start up a low cost airline called Air Oceania.
Not totally au fait with the whereabouts of the Loyalty Islands? The Loyalty Islands are both an administrative subdivision of New Caledonia and an archipelago about one hundred kilometres north east of the main New Caledonian island of Grande Terre.
Grande Terre itself is approximately 1500 kilometres north east of Brisbane.
The Loyalty Islands are made up of several other islands and islets. The population of less than 20,000 people is scattered across six inhabited islands.
Air Caledonie and Aircalin fly to various settlements across the Loyalty Islands from Noumea. You might think that would be an adequate service for a lovely but remote and thinly populated part of the world. But Loyalty Islands President Jacques Lalie thinks not.
President Lalie wants to promote tourism to the Loyalty Islands. He has been reported saying that he is in negotiations with Airbus and is looking at direct flights to destinations around the South Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand.
It’s not an entirely new idea. Administrative governments on the islands have a history of attempting to get financial backing to start Air Oceania. Thus far these efforts have come to nought.
I suspect President Lalie’s enthusiasm is being driven by some movement in the normally somnolent airlines around this part of the world. Air Nuigini is improving its schedules and services in the South Pacific, Fiji Airways is about to start flying a couple of A350-900s and Air Vanuatu is bringing in a pair of A220s in 2020.
President Lalie may be contemplating those A220s and getting a serious case of plane envy.
Has the idea got legs? I doubt it but I do like the idea – cheap flights to a South Pacific paradise. And I like ambition, and imagination. I just wouldn’t buy shares in Air Oceania.