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Questions emerge over future of Tonga's domestic airline

May 7, 2020 2:41 pm
Tonga's only domestic airline, the privately-owned Real Tonga, is reportedly on the verge of bankruptcy. [Source: RNZ]

Tonga’s only domestic airline, the privately-owned Real Tonga, is reportedly on the verge of bankruptcy.

The Minister of Finance, Tevita Lavemaau, made the revelation in a government press statement.

Owner and CEO of Real Tonga, Tevita Palu, confirmed the situation but also gave his reasons for the airline being in debt for millions of dollars.

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Mr Lavemaau said most of Real Tonga’s indebtedness was to the government.

This is said to have been made up of the dry lease of two planes and landing fees that had not been paid.

China gifted Tonga two planes, a Y-12 and a MA60, to be used for domestic air services.

Because the government did not have its own airline, an arrangement was made with Real Tonga for the lease of the planes.

Tevita Lavemaau suggested the government could wind up the airline and claimed it had been operating at a loss since its inception seven years ago.

The COVID-19 lockdown and suspension of air services during the State of Emergency had made things worse for Real Tonga.

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