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‘Eua airport works to start as Real Tonga laments losses

Photo: files

NUKU’ALOFA – June 12, 2018: 3.05pm(CH-AVIATION/Nuku’alofa Times): Tonga Airports Limited is now planning to start clearing overgrown trees around the airport complext at Kaufuna on ‘Eua Island.

This comes after news broke out that Real Tonga Airlines is considering staff layoffs as it grapples with the financial impact of the suspension of flights to Kaufuna Airport on the island.

Airline CEO Tevita Palu told Radio & TV Tonga last week that the airline had lost approximately TOP$100,000 (USD$44,890) as a result of the suspension which began over two months ago.

In late March, the airline complained to Tonga Airports Limited about the excessive height of trees on the approach into Kaufuna. As nothing has been done since then, the service is currently suspended.

But Viliami Ma’ake the Chief Executive Officer for TAL said they have plans to start clearing up the area.

In addition, Real Tonga’s Mr Palu said flights to Ha’apai, Niuafo’ou and Niuatoputapu have also been affected owing to damaged runways and associated aeronautical infrastructure at each of the airfields. Given diminished revenue inflows, the airline may have to retrench staff, he said.

Despite the gloomy short-term domestic outlook, Mr Palu did confirm plans were in the pipeline to launch international flights to Apia Faleolo, Samoa from Tongatapu via Vava’u beginning June 29. The two times weekly service will operate on-board the Saab 340B aircraft.

The service launch was suspended as a consequence of Cyclone Gita’s impact on the region back in February.


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