TONGA AIRPORTS NOW RUN BY GOVERNMENT COMPANY

News Release

Tonga Now Government of Tonga Nukualofa, Tonga July 3, 2007

Tonga Airports Limited (TAL), a fully government owned company, has officially opened its doors on Monday 2 July 2007, offering a new beginning and brighter future for Tonga.

[PIR editor’s note: Tongan airports, including Fua'amotu International Airport, Lupepau'u International Airport and four domestic airports were formerly operated by the Ministry of Transport.]

The development of TAL follows a decision made by the Government of Tonga to corporatize Tonga’s airport after considering alternate options for the operation and management of all its airports.

Key drivers behind the decision were:

Corporatization allows the airports to be placed on a strong commercial and financially managed footing while enabling the vital national assets to remain with Government.

While TAL begins its commercial activities, the department responsible for the aviation regulation and policy will remain with the Ministry of Civil Aviation who will join the Ministry of Transport, ensuring the operation and regulation of Tonga’s airports remain completely separate.

More than 90 percent of the existing airport staff will join TAL and are looking forward to the challenges and rewards in working in a commercially oriented airport environment. Along with the existing airport staff, new positions have been created and further employment opportunities are set to arise in the near future.

In order for TAL to participate in the highly regulated international safety and security environment, it is essential for the company to impose a few minor levies to ensure that we satisfy these requirements and to enhance the safety and security of the traveling public. The new levies are also required to restore and enhance the degrading facilities and critical equipments at airports in Tonga and to fund new developments of airports and air navigation services which are considered essential in meeting current and future demands. The public facilities are expected to improve substantially within a short time frame as a result of the new arrangement.

In this respect TAL looks forward to developing and fostering a close working relationship with all air transport stakeholders as we collectively pursue our common goal of achieving economic prosperity.

Tonga Now, formerly operated by the Government of Tonga’s Reform Information Office, is currently operated by Kalia Media Serivces, which provides media responses and information about Tonga from the Government.

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