21 May 2004

We couldn't foresee Royal Tongan collapse, says aviation official

10:47 am on 21 May 2004

The Secretary of Civil Aviation in Tonga, Ahovaleamoemapa Faletau, says his ministry could never have prepared for the demise of Royal Tongan Airline services.

This week the government pulled RTA's international service, and the airline's domestic service is grounded.

Last month RTA's sole international plane was repossessed, owing to payment difficulties.

The airline's shaky finances have been under scrutiny for a few years now.

But Mr Faletau, who's now called for interested parties wanting to provide domestic services, says the airline's fate is still a shock.

"When anything like this occurs, it's always a shock, I mean, take for example, the demise of Ansett a couple of years ago. You know there were pundits that had supposedly warned both sides of the Tasman of this, but you know, when it actually happened, it was an enormous shock."