17 Aug 2004

No royal hand in choosing airline, says Tonga official

6:36 am on 17 August 2004

Tonga's Secretary for Civil Aviation, Mapa Faletau, says there's been no interference from the Tongan royal family in choosing a domestic carrier.

A licence has been given to Peau Vava'u, which has also been known as Air Waves of Vava'u, an airline partly owned by the Crown Prince Tupouto'a

Another airline, Fly Niu, had been providing a domestic service since June when Royal Tongan Airlines collapsed but it didn't apply for a licence.

Fly Niu is pursuing legal action to overturn the one-airline policy.

Mr Faletau says the royal family had no role in formulating the policy.

"The policy was developed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation with the assistance of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, it was submitted to government, approved by government and subsequently the ministry was tasked with implementing it. There's been no interference or development of the policy based upon any member of the royal family other than the fact the Prime Minister is Minister of Civil Aviation."