28 May 2010

Tonga ferry going to Vava'u while flights grounded

4:14 pm on 28 May 2010

Tonga's Ministry of Tourism says it's extending the ferry service between Tongatapu and Ha'apai to Vava'u while domestic flights are suspended.

The authorities have cancelled all Chathams Pacific flights pending a meeting with the airline over the cause of an emergency landing at Fua'amotu International Airport earlier this week.

The airline says the cancellation affects about 20 flights and 200 passengers.

Sandra Fifita of the ministry's marketing department says that's causing significant delays to visitors' travel plans.

"The ferry that was scheduled to go to Ha'apai only, this is on Wednesday, actually because of the incident had to go all the way up to Vava'u as well as they picked up passengers from Ha'apai and Vava'u. So it came in and it arrived this afternoon. The ferry's again going on Monday morning at nine o'clock in the morning directly to Vava'u to pick up passengers from there as well."

Sandra Fifita says Chathams Pacific has an excellent safety record in Tonga and she hopes the incident won't be repeated.