Tahiti looks to East Coast market

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NEW YORK -- Air Tahiti Nuis new nonstop flights between New York and Tahiti are the first nonstops offered by any airline from the East Coast to the South Pacific.

The flights, which begin July 4, make it possible to get on a plane at New Yorks Kennedy and get off in Papeete 12 hours later. Previously, the trip required a change of planes in Los Angeles.

Nonstop transportation from the East Coast to Tahiti creates a new range of possibilities and an opportunity for the airline, tour operators and the destination to grow their East Coast business.

We have been getting about 15,000 passengers a year from the Northeast states out of a total of about 80,000 Americans, said Nick Panza, the airlines vice president for the eastern U.S. By the end of 2007, we expect to be to at 105,000, and we see that growth coming out of the Northeast on the nonstop.

The airline will offer three nonstops a week, on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The Thursday and Saturday flights will continue on to Sydney. The new flights have spurred tour operators to put together new Tahiti packages.

Our West Coast operators, such as Islands in the Sun, Pleasant Holidays, Tahiti Legends, Happy Vacations and Brendan Vacations, are developing products out of New York, said Panza. But we see traffic growing with our East Coast operators, including Gogo Worldwide Vacations, Swain Tours and Gate 1.

Here are some examples:

" Islands in the Sun introduced a six-night Tahiti, Bora Bora, & Moorea package with a night at the Sheraton Hotel Tahiti, three nights at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Hotel and two nights at the Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa. Prices start at $2,729 per person, double, including roundtrip air from New York, accommodations, air transportation between islands and a Tahitian black-pearl pendant.

" Islands in the Suns eight-night Tahiti, Tahaa and Bora Bora package is priced from $5,695 per person, double, including a night at the InterContinental Resort Tahiti, air transfer to the island of Tahaa, four nights at the Le Tahaa Private Island & Spa, transfer to Bora Bora by helicopter and three nights at the Hotel Bora Bora.

Prices include room tax, transfers and baggage handling. A departure tax of $135 is extra. Prices are valid through Dec. 31. For more information visit www.islandsinthesun.com or call (800) 828-6877.

" Swain Tours is offering a six-night itinerary with one night at the Radisson Tahiti Plaza Hotel in Papeete and five nights in a garden bungalow at the Bora Bora Lagoon Resort & Spa. The price starts at $2,495 per person, double, including air. Swains reservations number is (800) 227-9246.

" Gogo is offering a package that includes eight nights at the InterContinental Papeete, starting at $2,415 per person, including hotel, air, ground transfers, taxes and service charges. To book call (800) 229-4999.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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