09 September 2013

Real Tonga - Just what is going???

From the New Zealand end...
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says he has been in talks with China about a new aircraft it gifted to Tonga, after he raised concern about the aircraft's safety... Last month, the Chinese embassy in Wellington said New Zealand had acted improperly by making negative comments about the aircraft, which has had a negative effect on China's aviation reputation. Mr McCully says he has raised the issue directly with authorities in China and is quite comfortable New Zealand is following a proper course. He says he is seeking certification of the aircraft's safety from an internationally respected and independent certifier before tourism funding is restored.
Meanwhile in Tonga...
The latest figures from official sources reported inbound tourists into Tonga for July 2013 to continue positive annual growth despite unreliable travel advise by the New Zealand authorities...  Local airline Real Tonga have also introduced its new domestic air fare to start as low as TOP$ 225 one-way to Vava’u from 1st September 2013, almost half the fare cost in 2012 during the previous operator Chathams Airline will further boost the spread of tourism to the outer islands.
while the Church of the Latter Day Saints has told its people not to fly on the MA60...
The Mormon Church in Tonga has told its employees and officials the church would no longer pay air fares for them to travel on Real Tonga’s controversial MA-60 aircraft. The Mormon Church is one of the largest users of inter-islands air travel... A person who talked to Kaniva News from Mormon Church head office in Nuku Ľalofa on condition of anonymity, said the decision was taken for safety reasons. “We have to make sure that any such  equipment used by our employees, leaders and all those at elder level are safe and licensed according to international standard,” the person  said. “The church is liable for  the safety of its employees. “We are still using Real Tonga Airline services, but only its Queen and Islander aircraft.” She said about 50 church officials and leaders flew to and from the outer islands each week. Kaniva  made several attempts to obtain comment from Real Tonga,  but the airline did not respond to our emails. In the Tongan Parliament this week Opposition Leader, ‘Akilisi Pohiva asked why the government kept silent while the government-subsidised Real Tonga started to bear the consequences of allowing the MA-60 to fly without New Zealand’s civil aviation’s approval. It has been  revealed the airline has refunded thousands of pa’anga as a result of travellers withdrawal from using the MA-60 aircraft. The Opposition Leader’s statements were quickly attacked by the Prime Minister and his ministers, who told the House to move on and discuss something more important and said  the government is working on it. Real Tonga chief executive officer Tevita Palu told the local media he was not involved in the MA-60 deal and that he only knew about it after it was about to be brought to Tonga.

For the full article see : http://www.nzkanivapacific.co.nz/2013/08/mormon-church-stops-using-real-tongas-ma-60-service/#.UiwPSc2N3IU

And then there have been some aircraft changes... Rhiazen posted a comment on the blog last week advising...
Real Tonga have purchased A3-CIA (the Queenair) from Air Chats.
They had intended to purchase A3-LYP (BN Islander) from Air Chats also, but that fell through and they have now purchased BN Islanders from Samoa.
They have also requested the use of ZK-CIF since the MA-60 cannot land on short strips.
CIF has recently returned to NZ for Tauck work.
Air Chats Metroliner is still in Tonga for maintenance and is getting a new paint-job.

And finally a couple of links to those who have flown with Real Tonga...

Rineanna thought the MA60 was fine but she was lucky to catch her flight  - http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/243173/. Nice pics inside the MA60

but Marlene F wouldn't fly the airline again - http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294141-i5178-k6825679-Has_anyone_else_had_bad_experience_with_Real_Tong_Airlines-Tonga.html

1 comment:

  1. Flying on them in Jan.. will let you know how I get on!