29 Feb 2016

Tonga airports almost complete big upgrade

12:04 pm on 29 February 2016

The Chief Executive of Tonga Airports says a $US28 million upgrade of facilities will be a huge boost for the country.

From April Tongatapu's Fua'amotu airport will be able to receive Air New Zealand's Boeing 777 flights and Vava'u in the north will receive international flights from Fiji.

The death aged 63 of the monacle-wearing king, who had a penchant for flamboyant military uniforms and driving around in a London taxi, had engulfed the country in a "black stormcloud".

Tongans line the viewing deck draped in the black and purple of mourning to watch the casket carrying the body of King George Tupou V arrive at Fua'amotu International Airport on March 26, 2012 from Hong Kong. Photo: AFP PHOTO / Torsten BLACKWOOD

While work on the runways is complete, there is still upgrades to the terminal, security and navigation equipment to finish.

But Viliami Ma'ake said a lot of work had gone into increasing the capacity of the airports.

"The main thing was to resurface, upgrade the strength of the pavement and we also extended the turning bays at both ends of the runway and we also did some expansion at the apron for turning and parking."

Viliami Ma'ake said the upgrade was done through funding from the World Bank.