Airline owner focuses on family values and youth

Businessman Tevita Palu of Fasi-moeAfi is no stranger to controversies with government. The civil engineer is also the CEO of Real Tonga, the Kingdom’s only domestic airline. Two years ago aid towards the Tonga Tourism industry was withheld and New Zealanders were warned to fly in the kingdom at their own risk after Tonga received a twin-engine Xian MA60 aircraft from China. The aircraft – based on the design of the Russian Antonov 24 – has not received safety clearance from New Zealand’s civil aviation authorities. Further talks with New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully saw agreement for the release of half the funding set aside for Tonga Tourism.

The agreement was based on the reassurance that Real Tonga was committed to safety as a priority. Having encountered a recent turbulent patch in his professional life, Palu spoke of his Christian faith and his priority to honour God in all things. It is a principle on which his businesses operate. Although he avoided discussing the airline, Palu said that legislation was being altered to cater for the lawmakers. He wants to address youth problems, focus on family life and build the economy through legislation based on Biblical principles. “If we honour God in all we do… He will bless us beyond our imagination. We will proper if we set our hearts right with God. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.” His businesses include Palu Engineering in Tonga and Samoa, a travel agency, cargo, 50,000 register for election construction, a motor vehicle engineering service, sign designs and a charity foundation for the elderly and disabled. In all, he employs more than 200 people. Palu is a preacher in the Free Wesleyan Church in which he is deeply involved. He holds positions in various school committees, the Tonga Tourism Authority Board, the Friendly Island Clinic Dental Services and Tonga Quality Assurance.

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