28 Oct 2008

Tonga keen to work with Air New Zealand to keep LA link

5:13 pm on 28 October 2008

Tonga's Tourism Minister Paul Karalus says Tonga is keen to work with Air New Zealand to make the Tonga, Apia to Los Angeles service profitable.

Air New Zealand has informed the governments of Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands that it will require subsidies to continue its weekly flights between Tonga, Samoa and Los Angeles and Rarotonga and Los Angeles next year.

Mr Karalus says the Air New Zealand service is bedded in and he would be very reluctant to see it go.

"Obviously, our interest would be to retain it. We would of course, down the track, like to see it increase but initially obviously that's not possible. When we talk of a subsidy as I see it we're not necessarily talking of some fixed subsidy, what we're looking at is to assist Air New Zealand to ensure that it becomes profitable and sustains profitability on the route."

Mr Karalus says Tonga has hired consultants to review the service and will work with Samoa to negotiate with Air New Zealand for a continuation of service.