Fly Niu optimistic about domestic flight service proposal talks

Tū'uta e talēkita e Fly Niu 'i Tonga mo 'ene timi alea mo 'enau tu'amelie 'e foaki 'e he pule'anga' ma'a kinautolu 'a e faingamālie ke hoko e kautaha vakapuna ni 'o ua'aki 'a e kautaha Real Tonga 'oku ne lolotonga fataki 'a e sēvesi fepuna'aki fakalotofonua'. Kuo osi fakahā 'e Palēmia Pōhiva Tu'i'onetoa kuopau ke fokotu'u 'a e kautaha hono ua. Pea 'oku 'amanaki talanoa hangatonu ai 'i Tonga 'a e CEO 'o e Fly Niu mo e Tokoni Palēmia' he uike' ni ki he polopōsolo mo e kole ko eni.

Fly Niu Airline CEO ‘Atu Fīnau sounded an optimistic note before he left Auckland for Tonga yesterday to negotiate with the government about his proposal to operate a second domestic airline in the kingdom.  

“We had a good talk with the Prime Minister and I trust we have a very good proposal and the government would find it interesting,” Finau told Kaniva news.

He said he heard there was another proposal from another party but that did not bother him.

Fīnau was expected to meet directly with Deputy Prime Minister Vuna Fā’otusia this week.

He has brought with him to Tonga Matt Harvey from Australia and Auckland based insurance broker Semi Halanukonuka.

Matt said it was a “feasibility trip” to him.

As Kaniva news reported recently, the government said it would approve a second airline to service ‘Eua, Ha’apai, Vava’u and the Niuas.

Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa has described the move as urgent and the government had treated it as top priority.

He said the government hoped this would help reduce the current airfare charges which he described as very expensive (“fu’u mamafa”.)

Tonga’s only inter-island air travel services are provided by Real Tonga’s five aircraft

According to Real Tonga’s website a one way airfare ticket from Tongatapu to Vava’u  was TP$382.50.

Two airlines in the past which wanted to compete with Real Tonga locally were Fly Niu and Tonga Airways.

Fly Niu’s interest in the airline domestic services came after  it proposed for a  partnership agreement with the former Tongan government to operate international flights between Tonga and Auckland.

Finau said late Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva was about to sign a letter of approval but unfortunately he died last month in the week he planned to approve the proposal.

Fly Niu airline was forced out of Tonga 15 years ago when  the government passed a one airline policy that gave the sole right to operate domestic flights to Peau Vava’u, an airline, co-owned by the Late King George Tupou V and his business partners, the Ramanlal brothers. It replaced the bankrupt Royal Tongan Airlines.

Peau Vava’u operated from mid-2004 to the end of 2006 when their offices were destroyed in a fire.

In 2016, the former government declined an application by the Tonga Airways to operate. The company was owned by MP Sāmiu Vaipulu who is now Tonga’s Minister of Labour. The company planned to lease aircraft from Fiji Airways.

The then Minister of Civil Aviation, Semisi Sika, cited a report by the World Bank which said only one airline could survive financially serving Tonga’s domestic market.

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