TONGA’S PEAU VAVAU AIRLINE PLANS RETURN TO SERVICE

News Release

Tonga Now Government of Tonga Nukualofa, Tonga March 29, 2007

TONGA’S PEAU VAVAU AIRLINE PLANS RETURN TO SERVICE

Peau Vava’u Airline will return to regular flight operations from Monday, May 14 after being grounded since November 16.

In a press release CEO Tele Faletau said evaluation and work has been on-going since November to get the airline back in the air. The company’s offices were gutted by fire during the riot.

[PIR editor’s note: Peau Vava’u Airways, formerly owned by former Crown Prince Tupouto'a – now King George Tupou V – was under pressure by Tongan regulators to return to service or face the entry of a new competitor. The airline had a monopoly on domestic air service in Tonga until May of last year, when the government opened the industry to competing air carriers.]

The primary issue the company had to deal with was the loss of their manual suite which dictates operating procedures and in turn, ensures safety both on the ground and in the air. Off-site backups of key data, however, meant Peau Vava’u was able to reproduce manuals to their original status as of November 2006.

The abrupt cessation of revenue sources from the grounding in November and the ensuing substantial costs since then added to the delay in the return to operations.

The Board of Directors have secured adequate financing for the airline to "gear itself back up to operating standards" and ensure a smooth financially stable return to commercial operations, according to the press release.

In preparation for their return to operations, Peau Vava’u brought their leased Jetstream 41 aircraft back to Tonga in February.

A new flight schedule will be available from May 14. Peau Vava'u is one of two airlines operating Tonga's domestic flight services.

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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