6 Mar 2014

World Bank to certify Tonga plane but NZ travel warning stays

2:49 pm on 6 March 2014

Despite high-level talks yesterday between Tonga and New Zealand, a travel advisory remains in place over a controversial plane.

The Tongan Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano, together with New Zealand's foreign minister Murray McCully, have announced a full review of Tonga's entire transport industry, which will be led by the World Bank.

Last year Mr McCully froze tourism funds and issued a travel warning for New Zealanders considering air travel within Tonga, which was strongly criticised by Tonga's deputy Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu.

The review will solve the saga of the certification of the MA-60 plane, and Mr McCully says it's now time to move on from the dispute.

"I think we need to get past any sense of differences over particular items of equipment or transport modes and focus on good processes that are regarded as internationally robust."

Murray McCully says the travel warning will remain in place until the review team have made their recommendations, and says there's no set time frame as yet.