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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 5) – Polynesian Airlines landed at Lupepauu Airport on Vavau in Tonga today, beginning its twice-weekly service between the two Samoas and Tonga.

The flights, between Apia, Samoa; Pago Pago, American Samoa; and Vavau will operate on Mondays and Fridays.

It also marked an expansion of the Peau Vava'u domestic air service, which will charter the 36-seater Dash 8 to connect Vava'u to Tongatapu twice a week on the same days.

The new Polynesian Airlines air service and the charter service of the Peau Vava'u will be a boost to the flow of tourists to Vava'u, from the east via Pago Pago and from west via Fua'amotu International Airport, Tongatapu.

Meanwhile, domestic air services to the remote Niuatoputapu and Niuafo'ou, and to the island of 'Eua are expected to resume soon following the completion of the extension of runways in these islands.

Kaitu'u Fotu, the deputy secretary for Civil Aviation, said that the extension of the runway at the Kaufana Airport 'Eua to 700 meters was completed last week. He said that October 30 the DC3 of Peau Vava'u with the Prime Minister Prince 'Ulukalala Lavaka Ata made a successful test landing at Kaufana, and the Peau Vava'u is expected to start operating a daily service to 'Eua soon.

Kaitu'u said that the work on the extension of the Niuatoputapu runway started on November 1, and extension of its length by 471 meters from 729 meters, and its width by 8 meters from 22 meters. He said that the Niuafo'ou runway will also be extended by 150 meters from 1050 meters.

Kaitu'u said that the extension work to these three runways had been carried out jointly by the Ministry of Works and the Tonga Defence Services, overseen by the Minister of Defence, Col. Fetu'utolu Tupou.

The extension work for these runways has been jointly funded by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Peau Vava'u. The domestic air services to the whole of Tonga is expected to be in full operation before Christmas.

November 8, 2004

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