19 Jan 2013

Tonga tour operator fears flights uncertainty could scare travellers away

10:41 am on 19 January 2013

An inbound tour operator in Tonga says the uncertainty surrounding flights to the outer islands could confuse and scare visitors away.

The New Zealand-owned Chathams Pacific airline announced it would cease flights on March 2nd, after learning a 60-seat aircraft had been gifted to the Tongan government by China.

Chathams Pacific says the government wasn't willing to offer competition on a level playing field.

It has, however, offered to lease its fleet until the free aircraft arrives in June.

The director of Rising Sun Tour and Travel, Ford Aho, says he's worried about the gap between March and June, because what will happen between then has not yet been clarified or confirmed.

"That seems to me will be scaring our overseas passengers flying out to Vava'u. I have some booking up to September and I don't know how we're going to advise the overseas markets about the situation at the present time. The concern at the moment, there's a lot of confusion gonna be for that gap to be cover between March and June."

The director of Rising Sun Tour and Travel, Ford Aho.