ISTANBUL, TURKEY— All Boeing 787-9 operator Air Tahiti Nui evaluates strategic fleet diversification amid strong demand.

Air Tahiti Nui, an airline operating from the South Pacific region of French Polynesia, is currently exploring options for new long-range narrowbody aircraft to add to its fleet of four Boeing 787-9 widebodies. The decision is part of the airline's strategic plan to enhance its air connectivity, especially in the backdrop of its heavy reliance on the tourism industry.

The airline's managing director, Mathieu Bechonnet, shared insights into the airline's operations and its future plans at the recent IATA AGM in Istanbul. According to him, their four Boeing 787-9 aircraft are being utilized to their maximum operational limits as the airline works to maintain its 50% market share at Papeete’s Faa´a International Airport, amidst stiff competition from international airlines like United, Hawaiian and Air New Zealand.

The question of expanding the existing fleet or diversifying it has been a focal point of discussions. Bechonnet mentioned that the addition of a long-range narrowbody aircraft could potentially be a practical solution, especially considering the trend of smaller "baby widebodies" like the A321LR used by JetBlue.

Although an Airbus A321LR wouldn't be able to service all of Air Tahiti Nui's routes, any destination within a six-hour flight from Tahiti would be a feasible option. Bechonnet emphasized the need for thoughtful planning when making a decision of this magnitude, particularly in the current competitive market.

Despite the challenges, Air Tahiti Nui's capacity has surpassed its 2019 levels as demand for flights to Tahiti continues to surge for both tourism and VFR traffic from Europe. The airline primarily operates the Papeete to Paris route via Los Angeles LAX, and recently extended its Papeete-Seattle services to Paris Charles de Gaulle. Air Tahiti Nui also plans to resume services to Japan later this year after a three-year hiatus.