The rise and fall of the tiny Republic of Nauru in the central Pacific is reflected in its national carrier, Our Airline, which was known as Air Nauru until its bankruptcy in 2006. The phosphate rich island with a population of 8000 enjoyed a lavish lifestyle as they ripped up their coral island and literally exported their country to the farmers of the world to manufacture superphosphate fertiliser from their soil. During the heyday of the 1970-80’s Nauru’s government squandered the islands wealth making numerous poor investments, Air Nauru a perfect example of one. Beginning with a single leased corporate jet in 1970 the airline upgraded to a Fokker F28 in 1972 and Boeing 737 in 1975 and Boeing 727 a year later. The airline peaked in 1988 with three 737’s and one 727. As the phosphate ran out, so did the fortunes of the airline which by 1996 was reduced to a single 737. The airline came under criticism from Australia’s safety regulator which grounded Air Nauru in 1998 and from 2002 the airline fought court battles to delay bankruptcy which finally came in 2005. The airlines sole plane was unceremoniously seized by creditors at Melbourne Airport on 18 December 2005 but the airline was back in the air a year later with a new name but the same corrupt philosophy. They now have two 737’s, paid for with Taiwanese and Russian diplomatic bribe money.
Nauruans had a reputation for being the least friendliest Pacific Islanders. During the boom times the locals imported guest labourers to do all the work for them while they sat back and spent the nation’s wealth in front of the TV. This superiority complex showed up with the airline providing a frosty service by flight attendants who seemed to think they were superior to their paying passengers. However Our Airline provides a friendlier service than Air Nauru ever did and now crew perform their tasks diligently and with a smile.
Economic exploitation of Nauru has left the once beautiful tropical island on the Equator resembling an abandoned mine pit. Even the beaches are ruined in parts by rusting port facilities. Nauru is not a place many tourists want to visit, however if you do need to get there Our Airline is the only airline that flies there. Our Airline links Brisbane to Honiara in the Solomon Islands and then the plane flies on to Nauru. They also serve Nadi in Fiji and Tarawa in Kiribati. Our Airline’s second aircraft was leased to Norfolk Island's now defunct flag carrier, Norfolk Air until their closure in 2012. Air Nauru during its 1980’s heyday had an extensive network criss crossing the Pacific with the airline providing services that made absolutely no commercial sense.
Our Airline is expensive. Fuel prices are high in Nauru and also Kiribati and there is limited traffic on the few routes they fly, so to keep going they need to charge high prices.
Flights over two hours serve hot meals while shorter legs provide drinks and snacks only. The airline uses third party catering companies to provide meals which can be quite nice. As traffic numbers are low, the airline doesn’t put much thought into meal service, so servings are unlikely to resemble local cuisine, but are more comparable to better TV dinners.
Our Airline flights provide no entertainment however window seats will give passengers spectacular views of the hundreds of islands that dot the Pacific Ocean.
Everywhere except Nauru itself, passengers will be checked in by third party contractors who are pleasant and efficient enough. In Nauru check in staff range from rude to cheerful; it depends on your luck. The Nauruan way of showing distain for someone is to ignore them, so a lot of staff do seem to be showing distain to passengers, often. Baggage handling is reasonably efficient, but relaxed Nauruan baggage handlers seem to think lost baggage isn’t an issue to get worried over and passengers can expect delayed bags to have been pilfered. Travel Insurance to Nauru is as essential as your passport.
Our Airline provides no premium services for anyone, except those with family or political connections to workers of the airline.
Nauru has the largest per centage of obese people on the planet and their flag carrier has accommodated their needs by providing generous seat sizes. Seats are spacious and planes are seldom crowded.
Our Airline is not partnered to other airlines and does not have a frequent flyer programme.
Few airlines in aviation history have been as badly run as Air Nauru/Our Airline. When the President of Nauru ran out of his favourite brand of cigarettes a plane was pulled from its scheduled flight and sent to Fiji to buy him a few cartons (1984). At the time, no one thought this odd and no consideration was given to the inconvenienced passengers. This was typical of how the airline was run. The payroll consisted of invisible staff, the airline flew routes with practically no passengers and Nauruans came to see their flag carrier as a virtually free taxi service. It is difficult to believe that the corrupt culture and inept management what flew Air Nauru into bankruptcy does not also exist within Our Nauru. Taiwan has ‘rented’ the loyalty of Nauru by providing them with the finance for Our Airlines’ first plane in return for diplomatic recognition. Nauru realised there was money to be made by ‘recognising’ unpopular regimes. In 2010 Nauru recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia in return for $50 million of Russian ‘aid’. Much of this ‘aid’ pays Our Airlines bloated wages bill. While the airline’s management places a high priority in providing family and friends with jobs, the same emphasis is not placed on aircraft maintenance.
Nauru’s airport lacks modern safety equipment and diligent staff. Our Nauru also flies to many other places where safety standards are low – Tarawa in Kiribati, Honiara in Solomon Islands and Norfolk Island. Any landing or take off accident at these places could be catastrophic. On top of this the airline’s record on maintenance was been poor. In 1998 Air Nauru was grounded by Australia’s aviation safety authority and little has changed in the airlines attitude since that time.
If you need to get to Nauru there is no other way. Other than that there is no reason to fly this airline.
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