Tongan Airline To Start International Service To Samoa In November

Real Tonga to fly to Apia; flights to Fiji coming next

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 5, 2017) – Tonga's sole domestic carrier, Real Tonga Airline is expected to start a new international service to Samoa, in early November this year.

The service will be operated by a 34-seater SAAB 340 aircraft to fly between Tonga and Apia once a week, with Fiji planned for later on.

Tevita Palu, the airline’s owner and Managing Director announced on October 4, airfares offered would be less than half of the current costs, which will make travel affordable.

He said the airline has now received approval from the Civil Aviation of the Ministry of Infrastructure for operations from Tonga to Samoa and Fiji.

"The move from domestic operations to international requires more stringent safety requirements and the airline has had to demonstrate proficiency."

A proving flight between Tonga and Samoa was successfully completed earlier in August, which had on board an inspector from the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO), offcials from the Civil Aviation department and airline staff.

On investment, he said while they had to upgrade their internal procedures, they also spent substantial amounts of money on the required upgrades and modifications to their aircraft.

The service to Apia will be routed through Vava’u to provide this service to the people, as well as convenience and exciting addition to their tourism infrastructure.

He said on savings for travellers, currently anybody travelling between Tonga and Samoa currently has to pay airfares, sometimes in excess of $2,000 pa’anga to travel via Fiji or New Zealand and that trip requires at least one night accommodation to make connections.

"The fares offered will be less than half of those current costs, which will make travel for business, tourism or visiting families and friends an affordable reality."

He said the airline is expected to complete some formalities with the Government of Samoa, before its first flight.

In addition, they will be hosting a delegation from Niue later this month to look at providing air services between Tonga and Niue.

“I am very excited for this international service, we are finally moving to a wider more challenging arena that we expect will put pressure on airfares to drive them down and as the airline expands our international services, we expect that these benefits will become available to more of our Tongan people, to the tourism industry and will also act as a catalyst to further stimulate regional business growth."

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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