Here's some news from http://www.tahitipress.pf on the new Air Tahiti Nui A 343...
"The new Air Tahiti Nui Airbus A 340-300 arrived, sunday April 14th 2002, at the Tahiti-Faa'a airport. The plane left Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, then made a stop-over in the west of the United States (Los Angeles) before arriving in Tahiti.
Air Tahiti Nui's fleet is now made up of three Airbus. The new A 340-300 will mostly be used for flights to France with a first commercial flight to Paris scheduled May 5th 2002. The plane is the symbol of a new step in the evolution of the tahitian airline since its beginning in 1998.
"We are glad to see Air Tahiti Nui getting bigger. This gives us even more confidence for the future of tourism in Tahiti", said Alain Bernard, a tour-operator based in Los Angeles specialized in packages for Tahiti, during celebrations for the arrival of the plane in Los Angeles, April 12th.
He added that Tahiti's potential is interesting compared to other destinations such as Hawaii or Mexico where millions of US citizens already spend their vacations.
Indeed, Air Tahiti Nui will keep on targeting the US market while hoping for a real breakthrough in Europe.
The commercial outlook seems also quite positive for the Japanese market. A third Air Tahiti Nui weekly flight between Japan and Tahiti is scheduled starting April 20th.
The growth of tahitian tourism
This new Airbus A 340-300 has 264 seats in the "Classe Moana" (Ocean), 24 seats in the "Classe Poe Rava" (Black pearl) and 6 seats in the "Classe Poe Rava first". The plane also has a special crew rest cabin used for very long flights (more than 10 hours). Flight attendants will appreciate the cabin on the Papeete-Paris line.
Both the government of French Polynesia and France paid for the plane worth about US$ 93 millions.
The Economic restructuring fund created by France in 1996 after the end of nuclear tests in Moruroa (Tuamotu archipelago) paid 40% of the total amount.
During celebrations for the arrival of the plane in Tahiti, April 14th, the president of the government of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse, also stressed the fact that the growth of Air Tahiti Nui's fleet was very important for tahitian tourism.
The name of the plane, "Mangareva", refers to one island of the Gambier archipelago (eastern part of French Polynesia) where Gaston Flosse was born.
The pilot of the A 340-300 Airbus on April 14th, 35 years-old Vetea Sanford, was himself born in Mangareva. He is the grandson of Francis Sanford who was president of the government of French Polynesia in the early 1980's."