View Full Version : Tongan airline grounded

20th Dec 2002, 11:26

Tongan airline grounded
From correspondents in Auckland
December 20, 2002

ROYAL Tongan Airlines (RTA) was plunged into crisis after its solitary jet was grounded when it was found its certification had expired on the eve of an inaugural flight to Hawaii, Honolulu media reported.

RTA nearly collapsed last year and was reduced to a small domestic service when it let the certification on a leased Boeing-737 expire.

The airline only managed to resume an international service between Auckland and Nuku'alofa on November 24 when the government guaranteed lease money to Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA).

Aviation and Tongan government sources say the RBA-RTA deal is highly risky and threatens the economic viability of the already troubled Tongan kingdom.

The daily web page Pacific Islands Report, published by the Honolulu East-West Centre, which has close Tongan Government links, said several hundred Tongan travellers are now stranded.

It quoted RTA North America manager Alfred Resch saying arrangements have been made with Samoa's Polynesian Airlines to take RTA's passengers from Honolulu to Apia. They hoped then that the 757 will have received US certification by then and could pick them up.

Polynesian cannot fly them onto Hawaii as it is already overbooked.

On December 19 Tongan Police Minister Clive Edwards expressed concern with what he said was deliberate and false reporting about the state of the airline.

He said cabinet had received a request from RTA for 7.8 million paanga ($6.2 million) but did not give it, preferring later to provide 1.3 million paanga, funding it with a loan from two government trust funds.

Edwards said it was important to the kingdom to have an airline.

"Whilst the airline was without an aeroplane, tourists were discouraged from coming to Tonga because of the timetable of the aeroplane arriving between 1 and 2 am in the morning," he said.

"The airfares were high and some of our fish exports were left at the airports and were unable to be taken to its destination, not withstanding the prior arrangements with the airlines for its carriage."

Agence France-Presse

20th Dec 2002, 17:28
If you want to read about this area of the world, I can recomend Paul Theroux' book "The Happy Isles of Oceania".

21st Dec 2002, 06:02

I think you'll find that the certification referred to is certification by the FAA for Royal Tongan to operate as a foreign air carrier therefore precluding them from commencing services to Honolulu. The aircraft in question is maintained by Royal Brunei in accordance with the requirements of JAR145 and is therefore fully airworthy and continues to operate Royal Tongan's other routes. Responsibility for certification as a foreign air carrier must rest with Royal Tongan and I suspect that they were hoping for approval in time to start services but it did not come through in time.

Borneo Wild Man
22nd Dec 2002, 07:50
Once again the media misreport the facts.RTA still operating the a/c wet leased from RBA.Ahhhhhhh those TBU overnights!

Kwaj mate
27th Dec 2002, 11:22
Has this matter been cleared up.
Does the aircraft have an approval to fly into the US &/or it's air space?

28th Dec 2002, 09:27
Bring back the 748 and Capt s Bob and Al

1st Jan 2003, 06:53
Is the 757 still going to be used or is the deal off?
Whats the deal with the guys who came down to fly the 757??
Hope it works out in the end.