The Swiss airline Zimex will operate a de Havilland Twin Otter as part of a wet lease contract for Air Tahiti from mid-November 2022. The aircraft will fly on subsidized routes advertised by the French Polynesian government.
According to local media reports, the contract was awarded to Air Tahiti. Since the provider does not have a suitable aircraft for the special routes, a Twin Otter from Zimex Aviation is used for the wet lease. Connections to the small islands of Ua Pou and Ua Huka are to be served. So far, Tahiti Air Charter has operated these routes with Cessna Caravans.
However, the government believes that the capacity of these machines is insufficient and has offered subsidies for the operation. In this context, Air Tahiti was awarded the contract. The corresponding contract between the airline and the government has already been signed, so that the admission can take place in mid-November 2022. The subsidized routes are scheduled to start in mid-November 2022 and will be served five times a week.
According to Air Tahiti's statement, Zimex Aviation's wet lease operation is limited to 2026. This is also due to the fact that the government wants to significantly extend the runways of the two island airports. Ua Pou has an 830 meter runway and Ua Huka has a 755 meter runway. In the future, these are to be expanded in such a way that the machine type ATR42-600S can be used. The subsidy contract concluded with the government runs until 2026 for the time being.
In anticipation of this, Air Tahiti ordered two examples in 2019. These are to be handed over from 2025. In May 2023, the carrier will initially take delivery of an ATR72-600. This should actually have been received in 2020, but an agreement was reached with the European aircraft manufacturer on a later delivery due to the corona pandemic.