6 Aug 2004

Tonga aviation executive shocked at government red tape

10:28 am on 6 August 2004

The Chief Executive of Fly Niu Airlines, Atu Finau, says he is shocked at the new policy on domestic air operations by the Tongan government.

Fly Niu was one of two airlines which stepped into the gap left by the demise of Royal Tongan Airlines to service the kingdom.

The other airline, Air Waves of Vava'u, is being run by Pion Air from New Zealand and a Tongan agent owned by the Crown Prince Tupouto'a.

This week the government announced its new policy which involves both airlines having to reapply for a licence and limits the domestic routes to one airline.

Mr Finau says he is opposed to the new policy:

"We have put in a lot of effort and money in setting up this airline with the goal to operate 10 to 15 years, to 20 years. There was no indication whatsoever that it was going to be a one-airline policy. We expected a policy, it was supposed to be released on the first of November, but we didn't expect it's going to be one airline."

Atu Finau says the government will decide on the sucessful applicant on the 15th of August.

He wouldn't comment on Fly Niu's chances against the Crown Prince's company.