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SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Aug. 9) – Domestic airline service provider Air Fiji Limited has secured a licence to fly Fiji to Tonga routes this month.

The company has also set its eyes on expansion of its services to other pacific island countries following the viability and profitability of these newly approved services to Tonga.

The service will be provided by Air Fiji’s 49 per cent-owned Airlines Tonga, which initially only provided domestic airline services in the island kingdom.

The licence was granted by the Government and Kingdom of Tonga.

Air Fiji chief executive officer and Airlines Tonga Ltd chairman Sialeni Vuetaki in an interview yesterday said Fiji would greatly benefit from the new service.

"Air Fiji has got 49 per cent shares in Airline Tonga and 51 per cent by Tonga but we have the management right because we have the expertise and, engineers and pilots and we provide the aircraft and support to Tonga," he said. "Airline Tonga leases the aircrafts from us."

He said it had taken a good 12 months to obtain the licence to provide services to these routes because we had had to meet the regulatory requirements of Tonga.

"And since Tonga outsourced its services to New Zealand, we had had to go through regulation requirements of NZ."

Mr Vuetaki said this new service would further enhance the regional business between Fiji and Tonga.

Airlines Tonga Limited is based in Tonga and is the designated national carrier of the Kingdom of Tonga. It services Tonga’s domestic route.

"The inaugural flight will take place Wednesday August 15 this year. The route that will be serviced include Vavau-Nadi return and Tongatapu-Nadi return," said Mr Vuetaki.

He said the airline would be using the 50 seater Convair aircraft, which has adequate capacity for passengers and cargo.

"It is indeed a pleasing development to the airline and it should increase its revenue airlines. This is a new service altogether, a new service so definitely a new source of scholarship."

Mr Vuetaki said the airline company targeted to penetrate the civil aviation market in Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Wallis and Futuna and other pacific island countries.

"This is our first and we want to make it viable and profitable before we can explore other opportunities," he said.

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