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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 31) – Despite heavy rainfall over Tongatapu this morning, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV was present at Fua’amotu International Airport to welcome the arrival of both Pacific Blue on its first inaugural flight and Air New Zealand’s new Airbus A320 aircraft.

Tony Marks, Pacific Blue’s Chief Executive Officer and Tony Wheelens, Aviation Relations Manager, who were on board the inaugural flight, had an audience with the king at the Royal VIP lounge.

Marks told guests that this was a special day for aviation tourism in Tonga and a major step in the expansion of Pacific Blue’s service in the Pacific.

On October 30 they had their first inaugural flight to Samoa, and tomorrow November 1 will be their inaugural flight to Rarotonga.

"Pacific Blue not only offers a unique service and a brand new aircraft but it also offers the strong commitment of our staff which is the most important", he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Cecil Cocker said that Tonga greatly welcomes Pacific Blue and its twice a week direct flights from Sydney and three times from Auckland.

"The introduction of this low cost carrier provides an affordable alternative to the Kingdom".

Cocker said that this was a dream of the Tonga Tourism industry, as the low cost carrier would boost the capacity of travelers to Tonga from the average 1,300 to 1,500 plus.

The airline departed with its first Tongan passengers to Auckland and will continue its weekly direct flights to Tonga from Sydney and Auckland.

Air New Zealand also launched this morning at Fua’amotu International Airport the inaugural flight of its Airbus A320 Auckland-Tonga daytime service a few hours after the Pacific Blue launching.

In celebration of the Airbus’s inaugural flight to Tonga, the airline returned to Auckland with 18 VIP guests and also frequent flyers of the airline, which included Princess Nanasipau’u Tuku’aho and her daughter, Princess Angelika Halaevalu Mata’aho, the Deputy Prime Minister Cocker and other guests.

The airbus with a capacity of 138 Economy Class seats and eight-business class seats flies into Tonga once a week, every Monday. It was full for its inaugural flight both into Tonga and on the return to Auckland.

November 1, 2005

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