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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Maganti Tonga, April 28) - The Tongan Cabinet today was to decide thefate of 1,300 Royal Tongan Airline passengers who are stranded in Nuku'alofa, Auckland, Sydney and Rarotonga, following the suspension of its international services.

Since Royal Tongan Airline International service stopped on Thursday, April 22, stranded passengers were informed to either wait for the Cabinet decision or to purchase a cheaper return ticket with Air New Zealand’s Special Return Offer, that came into effect from April 23 - 30.

Those who bought tickets from Air New Zealand are still waiting for their money to be refunded from Royal Tongan, while others are still holding on to their Royal Tongan ticket waiting to be told whether or not their ticket may be transferred to another airline or refunded.

One of the many RTA stranded passengers in Auckland, 53-year-old Manusiu Na'a of Kahoua said he went ahead and bought another ticket from Air New Zealand with the understanding that Royal Tongan Airline would be refunding his money when he arrived in Tonga.

However, since arriving home on Monday, Manusiu said he went straight on the next day to the airline’s head office to get his money, "I was told that I would not be able to get it until Cabinet makes a decision but to come again tomorrow".

Manusiu, who went to Auckland earlier this month to purchase a new vehicle, is deeply concerned whether he will get his money back.

"I had to scratch up the last few dollars I had to be able to pay for the new ticket," he said.

Manusiu said he only wanted to help the airline and the Tongan economy and that is why he chose RTA, and for that loyalty he said all he has ended up with is no money and a headache.

However, by 5 p.m. on Wednesday 28 April, Cabinet had not made its decision public.

April 29, 2004

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