TONGA DOMESTIC AIRLINE RESUMES FLIGHTS

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One aircraft remains grounded after failure

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 1, 2010) - Chathams Pacific’s two 50-seater Convair aircraft have been cleared to resume Tonga’s domestic service today but its small aircraft remains grounded, the Tonga Ministry of Transport has confirmed.

Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Sione ‘Akau΄ola, said that the uplifting of the flight suspension applied only to the Convair aircraft. This was until technical work and information required by the Civil Aviation from the airline was completed.

He said that the Civil Aviation authority requested the airline to provide them with a proposal plan on their services to the Niuas. Chathams Pacific had responded that they could start flying to the Niuas this weekend because one of their aircraft servicing in New Zealand would arrive in Tonga on Saturday, June 5.

Sione said if they complied with the Civil Aviation requirement then they could likely be back in service but if they did not comply then their remaining aircraft would remain grounded until they do so.

It is understood the 50-seater Convair aircraft service Vava΄u and Ha΄apai, while smaller aircrafts service the Niuas.

The emergency landing that took place at Fua΄amotu Airport last week involved a nose wheel collapse on the airline’s 8-seater Queen aircraft.

Meanwhile, in a statement this afternoon, Noel Gillespie the General Manager of Chathams Pacific said that the airline’s safety and maintenance and facilities were closely examined by the CAD with its aviation advisors and PASO.

"On the matter of the Queen Air emergency landing the PASO inspector found that a bolt had failed due to internal inter-crystalline corrosion. The inspector said airline could not have detected this with the approved routine inspection," he said

Craig Emeny, CEO of Chathams Pacific, said that he understood the concern the CAD had and the action they took. "Passenger safety is absolutely paramount... and Chathams Pacific looks forward to working more closely with the CAD for the benefit

of safe domestic air travel in Tonga."

Chathams Pacific announced that flights would re-commence later today.

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