"Real Tonga" domestic airline to start flying March 4
24 Jan, 2013
Real Tonga a new Tongan-owned domestic airline today announced they had secured the lease of two Y-12 aircraft and will start servicing Tonga's outer islands on 4 March 2013. Tevita Palu, the Chief Executive Officer of Real Tonga and Palu Aviation Services Ltd. in a press release said in addition to its 17 seater Y-12 aircrafts, Real Tonga had available to it a 9-seater BN2 Islander, a 19-seater DHC6 Twin Otters and a 68 seater ATR72-500 aircraft. "These will be introduced in accordance with passenger-demand and season. However, initially the two Y-12 aircrafts will commence the operation." He said the flight schedule would be published on its website www.realtonga.to by January 28 and bookings could be made online or by contacting their office in Nuku'alofa. The airline would start advertising its posts Immediately for the recruitment and selection of personnel including management, pilots, engineers, ground and administration staff, he said. Real Tonga was committed to ensuring that domestic air transport in the Kingdom is not disrupted and that it has adequate seat capacity. "Our goal is to provide the travelling public with an airline that has safety as its main priority and is customer focused," he said. Tevita is expected to return to Tonga from Vanuatu on January 25 after securing the lease for the two Y-12 aircrafts. Domestic Tonga's sole domestic inter-islands airline, the Chathams Pacific of New Zealand last week announced it would discontinue its scheduled air services on Saturday 2 March 2013 due to a loss of business confidence, after the Tonga government moved to procure aircraft from China. The aircraft from China are now expected to arrive in April, two months earlier than was initially anticipated, to service the outer islands. Tonga's Deputy Prime Minister Hon Samiu Vaipulu in a press conference on January 18 said it was unfortunate that Chathams is pulling out, but Government's move to introduce the aircraft from China to operate the domestic air service was to provide competition and offer cheaper airfares. He did not think that the domestic air-service would be disrupted after Chathams Pacific discontinued their operation in Tonga on March 2. While Government has not announced plans for the management of the aircraft from China he said it would remain independent of its operation.