SAMOA'S POLYNESIAN HAS PROBLEMS WITH TONGA FLIGHTS

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APIA, Samoa (March 29, 2002 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---Samoa's Polynesian Airlines has again run into problems with a curfew at Tonga's Fua‘amotu International airport, with a weekend flight unable to land.

The Samoa Observer has been told that the flight left Apia's Faleolo Airport bound for Sydney late last Saturday night Samoa time.

But when it arrived over Fua‘amotu International Airport early Monday morning Tongan time the landing lights were off and the aircraft spent some time circling overhead, according to passengers.

The plane then returned to Apia for two hours before flying back later in the morning, the Observer was told.

Tongan airports and ports close from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday as part of the kingdom's Sunday observance laws.

A few months ago, a Polynesian flight from Sydney landed at Fua‘amotu International Airport after 11:30 p.m.

Its passengers had gone into the terminal while the aircraft was being refueled. By midnight, refueling had not been completed, the airport lights were turned off, and the plane was stranded in Tonga.

As for the flight last weekend, its passengers spent two hours back at Apia's Faleolo International Airport. At 5 a.m., it took off again for Tonga, passengers said.

On arrival, Monday morning Tonga time, it was able to land. Afterwards, it took off again for Auckland. On arrival there, the passengers bound for Sydney were driven to a hotel near the airport where they stayed overnight at Polynesian's expense.

The next day they were flown to Sydney.

No one at the Polynesian office was commenting on the incidents despite efforts to obtain comment before press time.

For additional reports from the Samoa Observer, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa Observer.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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