New Zealand lifts its travel warning over Tonga

The New Zealand government has lifted its travel warning for Tonga.

The warning was issued in August 2013 over concerns about the Chinese-made MA60 aircraft used by local airline Real Tonga.

The New Zealand government told tourists they would be flying on the MA60 at their own risk.

The MA60 has been involved in numerous crashes in different countries.

The travel advisory was issued a month after New Zealand suspended NZ$10 million (TP15.5 million) tourism aid to Tonga in response to the kingdom’s use of the aircraft.

A message from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued to Kaniva News this evening says:

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has reviewed its Tonga travel advisory to take into account the positive steps made by the Tongan Government to improve domestic aviation safety.

“The Government of Tonga has sought support from the New Zealand Government for a major overhaul of aviation safety in concert with the relevant regional and international aviation authorities.

“Progress is now beginning to be made which is already addressing some of our concerns.

“New Zealand travellers should expect changes to services as the authorities address safety issues and take this into consideration when making travel arrangements.”

The decision has been welcomed by the Tongan government, which said it would be good for the economy.

Real Tonga added two Handley Page Jetstream aircraft to its fleet earlier this year in reaction to the problems with the MA60.

The dispute over the MA60 and broader issues with the state of civil aviation in Tonga has already claimed its first political scalp with the removal of the Deputy Prime Minister from the aviation portfolio.

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