31 May 2014

Chinese officials meeting with Tongans to solve plane saga

5:12 am on 31 May 2014

Aviation officials from Tonga and China will meet in the Tongan capital on Saturday to try to resolve a running feud between New Zealand and Tonga over the MA60 plane.

A World Bank review on Tonga's transport sector is set to recommend Tonga ground the plane, saying it was not certified properly.

But Tonga says it has certified the plane in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation, who will also have representatives at today's meeting.

The Chinese manufacturer, AVIC, says the World Bank report is improper and unprofessional, and Tongan authorities, including the deputy prime minister Samiu Vaipulu, and the CEO of the Civil Aviation Division, Vili Cocker, say the World Bank did not approach them before making its conclusions.

An experienced New Zealand pilot, Rodger McCutcheon, says the ongoing travel advisory by New Zealand's foreign minister, Murray McCully, is hurting Tonga and has prompted Chinese authorities to get involved.