Second airline to service outer islands in bid to reduce ‘costly airfares,’ PM Tu‘ionetoa says

The government will approve a second airline to service ‘Eua, Ha’apai, Vava’u and the Niuas

The move was urgent and the government had treated it as top priority, Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa told Kaniva news yesterday.

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 next week  cost TP$382.50.

The Prime Minister did not go into the details of the second airline.

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

About two months ago, the Fly Niu authorities in New Zealand said they were disappointed after their submission for a  partnership agreement with the Tongan government to operate international flights between Tonga and Auckland was knocked back by the former cabinet.

As Kaniva news reported in November last year Fly Niu owner ‘Atu Fīnau said he had talked to the Prime Minister in Auckland about starting a service between Tonga and Auckland.

Fly Niu has also expressed an interest in re-entering the Tongan domestic market.

The 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.

The main points

  • The government will approve a second airline to service ‘Eua, Ha’apai, Vava’u and the Niuas
  • The move was urgent and the government had treated it as top priority, Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’I’onetoa told Kaniva news yesterday.

For more information

Fly Niu airline presents gov’t proposal to operate Auckland-Tonga flights

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