31 May 2004

Tongan parliament yet to debate air service impasse

1:56 pm on 31 May 2004

Vavau's People's Representative to the Tongan Legislative Assembly, Trevor Guttenbeil, says he wants the house to debate the lack of a domestic air service, as a matter of urgency.

Mr Guttenbeil says parliament met in Nukualofa today, but only attended to procedural matters.

He says with the demise of Royal Tongan Airlines, the lack of a domestic air service is hampering development and tourism in the outer islands.

Mr Guttenbeil says the damage will take a long time to repair, and he wants the issue tabled as soon as possible.

"To raise the problems we're now facing in the Vavau' region because there are no airlinks and hopefully we'll get an official response to the situation. Questions like when will a commercial plane will start flying to Vava'u and these sorts of issues. Hopefully I can raise this at the earliest opportunity."

Trevor Guttenbeil says an upcoming church conference in Vava'u will be affected by the lack of a service.

He says if it takes parliament more than a few months to resolve the matter, the damage to the economy will be extreme.

Parliament is set to meet again tomorrow.