26 Jun 2014

World Bank Tonga plane report waits on Tonga, NZ comment

7:47 pm on 26 June 2014

The World Bank says it will not publish a report on Tonga's transport sector until it receives more input from Tonga and other stakeholders.

In a letter sent to the Tongan Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano and the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully earlier this month, the World Bank said it had revised an earlier draft of the report, that had recommended Tonga ground its controversial MA-60 aircraft.

The new report, seen by Radio New Zealand International, says the authors interviewed key parties, although Tonga's deputy prime minister Samiu Vaipulu, who is the Minister of Infrastructure, says he wasn't interviewed.

The new report does not refer to the MA-60 plane and says very little additional data was collected, with authors relying more on their "prior knowledge of the Tongan situation".

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Photo: RNZ

Earlier this month, a New Zealand aircraft inspector, Peter Williams, issued an independent report saying the MA-60 was properly validated according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, says the travel advisory for Tonga will remain until the government sees the new report.

The new report was sent to Mr McCully on June the 6th. He is currently out of the country.

The report also says the request to review the transport sector was on the basis of a negative perception of safety but the actual safety situation "is not as bad as one may be led to believe".

It says the aviation sector has not had a fatal incident since the late 1970s.