Real Tonga grapples with Eua flights’ suspension

NUKU’ALOFA – Real Tonga Airlines is considering staff layoffs as it grapples with the financial impact of the suspension of flights to Kaufuna Airport on the island of Eua.

Airline CEO Tevita Palu told Radio & TV Tonga last week that the airline had lost approximately TOP$100,000 (USD$44,890) as a result of the suspension which began over two months ago.

In late March, the airline complained to Tonga Airports Limited about the excessive height of trees on the approach into Kaufuna. As nothing has been done since then, the service is currently suspended.

In addition, Palu said flights to Ha’apai, Niuafo’ou and Niuatoputapu have also been affected owing to damaged runways and associated aeronautical infrastructure at each of the airfields. Given diminished revenue inflows, the airline may have to retrench staff, he said.

Despite the gloomy short-term domestic outlook, Palu did confirm plans were in the pipeline to launch international flights to Apia Faleolo, Samoa from Tongatapu via Vava’u beginning June 29. The 2x weekly service will operate on-board Saab 340B equipment.

As previously reported, the service launch was suspended as a consequence of Cyclone Gita’s impact on the region back in February.

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