Real Tonga hires Fijian aircraft to replace Chinese MA60

PHOTO: Real Tonga’s Director Tēvita Palu. 

Real Tonga Airline has chartered an aircraft from Fiji Airways to replace the controversial Chinese aircraft MA60 the Tongan government has grounded two month ago.

The Real Tonga has added the twin-engine turboprop short haul regional airliner, 68-seater ATR72-600,  to its fleet in an attempt to meet its passengers’ growing demand.

Matangi Tonga Online has quoted Real Tonga’s Director Tevita Palu as saying, “The sudden unavailability of the MA60 aircraft meant that we had to urgently re-adjust our fleet…”

The MA60 aircraft was returned to the Tongan government on February 8 after its lease was terminated due to the new legislation.

The Chinese aircraft is now leased out to a new Tongan company, the Royal Tongan Airline,  owned by a group that involved Tonga’s Former Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu and others.

Vaipulu claimed the MA60 would start flying domestically this month. His claim came after the Minister of Infrastructure told Kaniva News in Auckland recently Royal Tongan Airline had been given four conditions to fulfil before the MA60 was allowed to operate in Tonga.

None of those conditions had been met, the minister said.

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