11 Jun 2014

Tonga airline getting additional planes

4:42 pm on 11 June 2014

The head of Tonga's Tourism Authority says two Jetstream planes being purchased by Real Tonga will not replace the controversial MA-60 aircraft, but are additions to the airline's fleet.

Stuart Perry says the planes will allow Real Tonga more flexibility with scheduling to the outer islands but also gives the airline a chance to continue flights to Vava'u, if the MA-60 needs to be grounded to go through additional certification demanded by New Zealand.

Mr Perry says the tourism industry in Vava'u has been economically devastated since New Zealand first issued a travel advisory about the MA60.

He says they hope the planes will help lead to the advisory being lifted and New Zealand lifting its suspension of aid funds to the tourism sector.

We'd all hope that it'd be lifted immediately and we'd hope that the funds be released immediately but I appreciate that the government would have to go through the appropriate processes. I'm sure that they will and I'm sure if the issue's resolved to the satisfaction of Murray McCully and the prime minister then I'm sure they will be positive and make the right decision.