31 May 2004

Tongan MP says safety concerns slow airline licencing

3:22 pm on 31 May 2004

Vavau's People's Representative in the Tongan Legislative Assembly, Trevor Guttenbeil, says there are safety concerns may slow down the issuing of commercial air operator's licence for a domestic service.

Trevor Guttenbeil says a new company, Air Waves of Vava'u, plans to launch a domestic service in conjunction with Pion Air of New Zealand last week after the demise of Royal Tongan Airlines.

He says some MPs are concerned about the procedural process, and that proper checks and balances still need to take place.

"We'd always hope for our government to go that extra mile to try to address the situation. But you know I'm sure they've done their bit. I've talked to some in government and what seems to have come out is the concerns for safety is paramount - where do we balance it out?"

Trevor Guttenbeil says he plans to present his petition to parliament for quick action to help Vava'u.

He says at the moment, the only mode of travel people are relying on to get to the outer islands is by ferry.