Tonga buys new aircraft expected to arrive in kingdom soon, PM Hu‘akavameiliku confirms

Tonga’s Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku has confirmed the troubled Lulutai airlines has bought a new aircraft.

Hon Hu’akavameiliku

He was responding in Parliament after a submission by the Tongatapu 7 MP calling on the House to stop the government from “planning to buy a new aircraft”.

However, the Prime Minister adimitted that the aircraft has already been purchased.  

The news comes after Kaniva News reported last week it had information that the airlines has bought a 19-seat DeHavilland Canada Twin Otter for US$6.5 million including other costs.

The Lulutai’s chief executive, Poasi Tei, did not respond to our request for confirmation at the time.

It is understood that in May this year Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade awarded a contract to support a Twin Otter in Tonga.

Twin Otters have an extremely good reputation and have been used widely in the Pacific.

The Kiribati government bought one in February through an American company and it appears the deal may have been supported by the US government.

According to Kaniva New’s sources, a Twin Otter is being prepared and is expected to arrive in Tonga soon.

It is understood that earlier this year,  Tei was enquiring about the possibility of acquiring a Twin Otter for a three to six months lease.

Micro operators such as Lulutai normally seek a package known as a wet lease that includes an aircraft, crew,  maintenance and insurance. However, Tonga’s financial position is likely to affect its chances of securing an aircraft without external funding guarantees.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

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