Talks start on flight options
THE withdrawal of Samoa from a joint venture with Virgin Australia has sent regional airlines into a frenzy. In June, Real Tonga’s Deputy CEO, Fakatele Faletau, flew into Samoa to look at the possibility of scheduled flights between the Polynesian neighbours.
The move came just a week after Samoan Prime Minister, Tuilapea Sailele Malielegaoi, made public the region’s worst kept aviation secret – his country was fed up with its deal with Virgin. Faletau was coy when approached by Islands Business in Sydney to discuss his Samoa visit.
“We are looking at options, including an air service agreement with Samoa,” Faletau said. “It’s all part of doing business in the Pacific. We need to discuss issues which are important nationally and commercially.” If Real Tonga can secure flights into Samoa, the service will allow an optional link from Nuku’alofa connecting off Fiji Airways’ current route from Nadi to Fua’motu.
The benefit to Tonga will be that it can attract visitors to spend time in the kingdom before travelling on to Samoa or back to Fiji. Real Tonga will want to extract an agreement from Samoa based on the kingdom allowing Talofa Airlines to fly from Pago Pago to Vava’u, Nuku’alofa and Apia.
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