20 Dec 2016

Tonga Airways still intent on getting service off the ground

7:06 am on 20 December 2016

The board of Tonga Airways says it is still intent on getting its services off the ground despite having to cancel the launch of its domestic flights, via a Fiji Airways charter, on Monday.

Sign at Vava'u airport in Tonga

Welcome to Vava'u Photo: RNZI

Tonga Airways is a partly Tongan, partly foreign owned venture which aims to provide a second air service for Tonga and said it aims to provide cheaper airfares than the existing operator Real Tonga.

Its board chairperson, former cabinet minister Samiu Vaipulu, said it was disappointing that the Aviation Minister Semisi Sika chose not to grant approval for Tonga Airways to start its domestic service using chartered Fiji Airways aircraft.

But he said they intended to continue pressing for the approval to launch the service.

"Enjoy Christmas and then we will look at it opening of New Year. The main thing we are trying to do is to help the people that is all we want, help the people fly cheaper and also provide a reliable safe means of transportation," said Samiu Vaipulu.

Mr Vaipulu said Tonga Airways was separately also pressing ahead with its application for its own Air Operators Certificate which would allow it to fly its own planes.

Earlier this year Air New Zealand and Fiji Airways increased their international services to Tonga prompting a call from Tonga Tourism for improved domestic services to cope with the higher international passenger capacity.

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