Fly Niu airline bids to return to Tonga

    A proposal has been submitted to the Tongan government to bring back an airline that was forced out of Tonga more than 10 years ago.

    Fly Niu airlines, which was owned by a Tongan-New Zealand couple, Amber and ‘Atu Finau, came to Tonga in 2004 after the collapse of the national Royal Tongan airline left the Friendly Islands without a domestic air service.

    The airline left Tonga after the government passed a one airline policy that gave the sole right to operate domestic flights to Peau Vava’u, an airline, co-owned by the Late King George Tupou V and the Ramanlal brothers.

    In a meeting in Auckland between Tonga’s Minister of Infrastructure, Hon. ‘Etuate Lavulavu and Fly Niu’s CEO ‘Atu Finau last night (February 13), it was apparent the new democratic Tongan government is prepared to ease the one airline policy and invite airlines to compete for its internal flight services.

    Tonga’s current sole domestic airline, Real Tonga, has suffered from bad publicity and  inconsistent performance since it began operation in 2012. The company leased an MA60 transport which had been given to the Tongan administration by the Chinese government.

    The airline’s other aircraft, including its Beechcraft Queen Air (A3-CIA) and British built Jetstream 32 have also each involved in recent incidents.

    Hon. Lavulavu said the decision to approve Fly Niu’s proposal lies within the power of the cabinet, but said he became interested in the company’s submission after he was briefed by Finau. The minister said the proposal sounded reasonable and convincing.

    A couple of airlines had already indicated their interest in operating Tonga’s domestic services, Fiji Airways and a new airline company owned by the Former Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, Samiu Vaipulu.


    In a letter to Hon. Lavulavu, Finau, who describes himself as an aviation consultant and has worked for Hawker Pacific Asia said: “Firstly, we would address the domestic operation and then, once established, regional and international operation focusing on the Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand markets.”

    “We have access to aircraft that would be ideal to operate in Tonga – they are safe and reputable with a positive proven performance record in the Pacific; specifically, the ATR 72-500 and the Twin Otter.”

    Finau told Kaniva News if the government approved his proposal it would take less than three months before its airline could start operating.

    Finau, the former General Manager of Engineering (Operations) for Air Vanuatu, said Fly Niu’s international operations concentrated only on flights from Auckland to Tonga.

    He said Fly Niu would operate under Air Vanuatu’s Foreign Air Operator Certificate, a certificate that it could take a newly established airline up to a year to obtain.


    Hon. Lavulavu said he was happy that Finau had an interest in the flights between Nadi and Vava’u and also for an aircraft to service Niua, the northernmost group of the kingdom’s islands.

    Finau said his company had found that about 80 percent of tourists travelling from Fiji to Tonga were travellers to Vava’u. Most travellers from Auckland to Tonga were Tongans and not foreign tourists.

    He said at the moment travellers from Fiji to Vava’u have to transit through Tongatapu before taking an onward flight.

    Finau said Fly Niu planned to offer a direct Nadi-Vava’u service.

    “If the government can revive my  airline we can give Tonga the best service ever in its history of airline services just as we began doing in 2004,” Finau said.

    He said the Air New Zealand and Pacific Blue flights left either New Zealand or Tonga at night and the amount of cargo they allowed did not meet Tongan traveller’s needs.

    “Our Tongan people cannot travel to Tonga without taking as much luggage and as many parcels as they can take for their families and relatives, so we have to provide reasonable heavier weights and space in the aircraft for them,” Finau said.

    He said Fly Niu’s international flight would fly during the day, allowing arriving travellers time for shopping and sightseeing.


    Finau expected the current government would guarantee future governments would not interfere with Fly Niu’s operation unless it was for safety reasons.

    Finau said he trusted the government of Prime Minister Pohiva to promote fair competition and the best services for the people. However,  after four years in office there was no guarantee those policies would stand if another government took over.

    He asked Hon. Lavulavu whether the government could provide such a guarantee, but the minister told him to put it in his proposal for the cabinet to look at it.

    Finau said airlines were a multi-million business and his investors did not want to spend millions on the first three years setting up the business and then find in the fourth year that they were kicked out by the next government, as happened to the Fly Niu in 2004.


    Finau, the former General Manager of Fiji Airways, said he would use a nine seater Britten Norman Islander to serve the Niuas from their nearby islands of Vava’u.

    Finau said the British made aircraft fitted the conditions of the Niuas because it could land on short, rough airfields.

    He said he understood the demand from the domestic market was high. Apart from tourists, Tongans travelled for funerals, weddings, birthdays and businesses.

    Finau would not talk about how much he would charge for airfares, but said he would guarantee  Fly Niu would always keep its airfares as the best rates for the people.

    “I am not doing this to get rich,” he said.

    “Yes, we need money but as long as our costs are covered and we have enough profit and that’s all.”

    He said if the airfares were affordable and people were satisfied with the service the company could guarantee a service that may last for many more years.


    Fly Niu was forced out of Tonga after the government introduced a one airline policy and awarded the sole domestic operating license to  Peau Vava’u, an airline co-owned by the Late King George V and the Ramanlal brothers.

    Fly Niu admitted later it had not actually applied for the new license.

    The Tongan government seized Fly Niu’s Dash 8-series 200 aircraft for a time because of unpaid fees.

    At the time Finau said his company expected to operate in Tonga for up to 15 to 20 years, but was surprised at the treatment he received because he had put a lot of effort and money into setting up the business.

    Peau Vava’u’s licence was revoked after two years of services and after it received a number of complaints and criticisms from the public for its bad services. It ceased operating soon after one of its offices burned down.

    The main points

    • A proposal has been submitted to the Tongan government to bring back an airline that was forced out of Tonga more than 10 years ago.
    • Fly Niu airlines, which was owned by a Tongan-New Zealand couple, Amber and ‘Atu Finau, came to Tonga in 2004 after the collapse of the national Royal Tongan airline left the Friendly Islands without a domestic air service.
    • The airline left Tonga the same year after the government passed a one airline policy that gave the sole right to operate domestic flights to Peau Vava’u, an airline, co-owned by the Late King George Tupou V and the Ramanlal brothers.
    • Tonga’s current sole surviving domestic airline, Real Tonga, has suffered from bad publicity and inconsistent performance since it began operation in 2012.

    For more information

    Tongan airline history

    Peau Vava’u

    Fly Niu

    Tonga’s Fly Niu confirms failure to apply for licence (RNZI)

    Tonga releases Fly Niu p[lane (RNZI)


    1. Feinga Kautaha Vakapuna Fly Niu ke toe foki ki Tonga.
      Kuo fakahū atu ki he puleʻanga Tongá ha fokotuʻu fakakaukau ke fakafoki atu ha kautaha ʻealaini kuo hongofulu taʻu talu hono tekeʻi fakamālohiʻi mei Tonga he taʻu ʻe 10 kuohilí.
      Ne hū ʻa e kautaha vakapuna Fly Niu ki Tonga, ʻa ia ko e kautaha ʻeni ʻa e ongo mātuʻa Tonga mo Nuʻu Sila ko Amber mo ʻAtu Fīnau, ʻi he 2004 hili ʻeni e mate ʻa e kautaha vakapuna fakafonua Royal Tongan Airline pea ʻikai foki ha kautaha vakapuna ke ne fakalele ʻa e fepunaʻaki fakalotofonuá.
      Ne nau foki mamahi ai ki Nuʻu Sila ni hili ia hono paasi ʻe he puleʻangá ia haʻane polisī ke taha pe ʻa e kautaha vakapuna ke ne fakalele ʻa e fepunaʻaki fakalotofonuá ʻo ne ʻoange ai ʻe ia ʻa e totonu ko ʻení ki he kautaha Peau Vavaʻú , ko e kautaha ʻeni ne kaungā maʻu ʻe he tuʻi kuo ungafonuá, Siaosi Tupou V mo e ongo tautehina Manilalá.
      ʻI ha fakataha ʻi ʻAokalani ʻa e Minisitā ki he ʻInifalakisā ʻa Tongá, ʻOnapolo ʻEtuate Lavulavu pea mo e CEO ʻo e Fly NIu ʻaneafi (Tokonaki ʻaho 13 Fepueli) naʻe mahino mei ai kuo mateuteu ʻa e puleʻangá ke fakatatafe ʻene polisī ke taha pe kautaha vakapuna fakalotofonuá kae fakaafeʻi ke lahi ha ngaahi kautaha ke nau feʻauhi ke fakahoko e fepunaʻaki ʻi Tongá.
      ʻOku taha pe ʻa e kautaha vakapuna ʻa Tonga he taimí ni ʻoku ne fakahoko e fepunaʻaki fakalotofonua, ʻa e Real Tonga, ka kuo maʻaveʻave ʻa e ngaahi faingataʻa ki he ha ʼū vakapuna ʻa e kautahá ni pea pehē ki he fetōʻaki ʻikai papau ʻene ngaahi polokama fepunaʻakí talu ʻene faifatongia mei he 2012. Naʻe lisi ʻe he kautaha ko ʻení ʻa e vakapuna MA60 ʻa ia ne foaki ʻe he Puleʻanga Siainá ki he puleʻanga ki muʻá.
      Kuo ʻi ai foki ha ngaahi vakapuna ʻa e kautahá ni kau ai ʻa e Beechcraft Queen Air (A3-CIA) mo e vakapuna faʻu ʻa Pilitānia ko e Jetstream 32 ne matuʻutāmaki ki muí ni mai.
      Naʻe meʻa ʻa e ʻEiki Ministaá ʻo pehē ko e mafai ki hano tali e kole ʻa e Fly Niú ʻoku ʻi he ʻaofinima ia ʻo e kapinetí ka naʻá ne pehē ʻoku ʻuhinga mālie pea lava ke ne tui ia ki he polopōsolo ʻa e kautahá ni hili ʻene fanongo ki hano kiʻi fakamatalaʻi toʻotoʻo konga lalahi ange ʻe Finaú kiate ia.
      Kuo ʻi ai foki ha ngaahi kautaha vakapuna kuo nau ʻosi taʻalo atu ki he puleʻanga ʻo fakahā ʻa ʻenau fie hū atu ke fakalele e fepunaʻaki fakaloto fonuá fakatatau ki he minisitaá ʻo hangē ko e Kautaha Vakapuna Fiji Airways mo ha kautaha ʻe taha ʻa e Tokoni Palēmia ki muʻá, Samiu Vaipulu.
      Ko ʻAtu Finaú foki ko ha tokotaha ia ne fai faleʻi fefolauʻaki ki he kautaha ko e Hawker Pacific Asia pea naʻá ne fakahā foki kia ʻOnapolo Lavulavu ʻi haʻane tohi ʻo pehē ka tali ʻene kolé te nau ʻuluaki kamata ʻi he fepunaʻaki fakalotofonuá pea ko ʻene tuʻu lelei pe ia te nau manga atu ki he ngaahi fonua kaungāʻapí ʻo ʻalu ai pe ki he fepunaʻaki fakavahaʻapuleʻangá ʻo fakatefito ʻi Fisi, Haʻamoa mo e ngaahi māketi Nuʻu Silá.

      Naʻe fakahā ʻe Finau ʻi heʻene tohí ʻoku lava ke nau maʻu ʻa e ngaahi vakapuna lelei ki he fepunaʻaki ʻi Tongá – ngaahi vaka ʻeni ʻoku malu pea ʻiloa ʻi heʻenau faifatongia lelei he Pasifikí tautefito ki he ATR 72-500 mo e Twin Otter.
      Naʻe toe fakahā foki ʻe Fīnau ki he Ongoongo ʻa e Kanivá ka tali ʻene fokotuʻu fakapisinisí ʻe ʻikai toe laka hake ʻi he māhina ʻe tolú kuo lele ʻene kautaha ʻana ia.
      Ko Finau foki ko e Pule Lahi Fakaʻenisinia ia ki muʻa ʻi he Kautaha Vakapuna ʻEa Vanuatú pea naʻá ne fakahā ʻe taafataha pe e fepunaʻaki fakalotofonua ʻa e Fly Niu ʻi he vahaʻa ʻo Tonga mo ʻAokalaní.
      Naʻá ne pehē ʻe ngāueʻaki pe ʻe he Fly Niu ʻa e setifikeiti FAOC ʻa e ʻEa Vanuatu, ʻa ia ko e pepa ʻeni ʻoku fakaʻatā ai ha kautaha muli ke faifatongia ha feituʻu, pea fakatatau ki heʻene laú ʻoku mei aʻu ia ʻo taʻu taha ha feinga ʻa ha kautaha vakapuna foʻou toki tokotuʻu ke maʻu ʻa e pepa koi á
      Naʻe fakahā foki ʻe Lavulavu ʻa ʻene fiefia ʻi he tokanga ʻa Finau ke fakahoko ʻa e ngaahi fepunaʻaki he vahaʻa ʻo Nenitī mo Vavaʻú pea pehē ki ha vakapuna ke ne tokangaʻi ʻa e fepunaʻaki ki he ongo Niuá.
      Pehē ʻe Fīnaú kuo ʻilo ʻe heʻene kautahá ko e pēseti ia ʻe 80 ʻo e kau folauʻeveʻeva mei Fisi ki Tongá ko e taumuʻa ia ki Vavaʻu. Ko e tokolahi taha ʻo e kau folau ia mei ʻAokalani ki Tonga ko e kakai Tonga pe ia ʻikai ko ha kau folau ʻeveʻeva.
      Naʻá ne pehē ʻi he taimi ní ko e folau ko ia mei Fisi ki Vavaʻú ʻoku fou ia ʻi Tongatapu pea ʻoku hoko ai ʻa e fakamole lahi mo e toe palopalema ʻo ka toe tau toloi e fepunaʻaki ʻa e vaka ia ʻi Tongatapu.
      Naʻe pehē ʻe Fīnau ʻoku palani ʻa e Fly Niu ke puna hangatonu pe ʻene vakapuná ʻana mei Nenitī ki Vavaʻu ʻoua toe fou ʻi Tongatapu.
      Naʻá ne pehē ka tali ʻe he puleʻangá ke toe foki atu ʻene kautahá te nau lava ʻo ʻoatu ki Tonga ʻa e sēvesi lelei taha kuo toki mātā ʻe fonuá ʻi hono hisitōlia fepunaʻaki vakapuná ʻo hangē pe ko ia ne ʻosi kamataʻi ʻe he Fly Niu he 2004.
      Ne ne pehē ko e ngaahi fepunaʻaki ʻa e ʻEa Nuʻu Silá mo e Pacific Blue maʻa Tongá ʻoku lahi fai poʻuli ia pea ʻikai feʻunga ʻa e lahi ʻo e uta ʻokú na fakaʻataá ki he fiemaʻu ʻa hotau kakai Tongá
      Pehē ʻe Finaú ko e kakai Tongá koe kakai folau pea manako ke ʻai pe ʻenau utá ki he lahi taha ʻe ala lava ke ʻave ki honau fāmili pe kāinga pea ʻe hanga ʻe he Fly Niu ʻo ʻaonge faiangamālie lahi ange ki he uta ʻa e kakai ʻi heʻene vakapuná.
      Naʻá ne toe pehē foki ko e fepunaʻaki fakavahaʻa puleʻanga ia ʻene kautahá ʻe fai ia ʻi he taimi ʻaho ke lava e kakai ten au tūʻuta hange ki Nuʻu Silá ʻo ō ʻo fai ʻenau ngaahi sōpingi pehē foki ke lava ken au kiʻi takai ʻo mamata he fonuá hili pe ʻenau tūʻutá.
      Ka ʻoku ʻi ai pe e meʻa ʻoku kiʻi manavahē tēvolo ki ai ʻa Fīnau ʻi he foʻi feinga ko ʻení telia naʻa tali ʻe he puleʻanga ko ʻení e fokotuʻu pea lele e kautahá pea hū mai e puleʻanga hokó ia ʻo fai e meʻa tatau ne tuli fakapotoʻi mai ai kinautolu mei Tonga he 2004.
      Ne ne pehē ʻoku falala ia ki he Puleʻanga ʻo ʻAkilisi Pōhivá ʻe hanga ʻe heʻene ngaahi polisií ʻo teke e feʻauʻauhi fakapisinisí ʻi he founga maʻa mo taau pea pehē ke ʻoange ʻa e faingamālie lahi maʻu pe maʻa e kautaha vakapuna ʻe lelei taha ʻene faifatonga ki he kakaí.
      Naʻá ne kole ange ai ki he minisitaá pe ʻe lava ke hanga ʻe he honau puleʻangá ʻo maluʻi e tafaʻaki koi á hange ko ha tohi ke fakapapauʻi ʻe ʻikai hano fakafeʻātungaʻi ʻo e Fly Niu ʻi he kahaʻu pe tuli ʻi ha toe ʻuhinga tukukehe ka ko ha meʻa fekauʻaki mo e malu ʻa e kakaí.
      Naʻe fakahā ʻe he minisitaá kia Finau ke ne fokotuʻu mo e fakakaukau koi á ʻi heʻene polopōsoló ke ʻave ki he kapinetí ke fai haʻanau lau ki ai.
      Naʻe pehē ʻe Fīnaú ko e kautaha vakapuná ʻoku lau miliona pe ʻa hono mahuʻinga mo e meʻa ke faiʻakí pea ʻoku ʻosi mahino ko hano kamataʻi hono fakalelé ʻe ʻikai tupu leva ka ko e fakamole ʻataʻatā pe. ʻE toki faʻa kamata haʻane fakatuputupu ʻana ʻi ha ʻosi ha taʻu ʻe ua ki he fā. Ka ko e manavasiʻí naʻa tō ʻenau fakamolé ʻi he taʻu atu pe ʻe ua pe tolu mei heni pea ʻikai toe hoko atu e puleʻanga ia ʻo Pōhiva kae hu mai ha toe puleʻanga ia ʻo tuli kinautolu pea ko e meʻa ʻe hoko ko ʻenau fakamole ʻataʻatā pē.
      Ko Finaú foki ko e pule lahi ia ki muʻa ʻi he kautaha vakapuna Fiji Airways pea naʻá ne pehē ʻokú ne ʻilo lelei ki he ongo Niua mo e vakapuna totonu ke puna ki aí pea kuó ne teuteuʻi ai ʻa e vakapuna Britten Norman Islander ke taafataha pe ʻene puna ʻana mei Vavaʻu ki Niua pea foki ʻo lepa pe ʻi Vavaʻu.
      Ko e kalasi vakapuna ia ko ʻení ʻoku lava pe ia ʻo tō he ngaahi feituʻu toka kovi pea ʻi ha valaʻe vakapuna ʻoku nounou pe ʻa hono tōʻanga vakapuná.
      Naʻe pehē ʻe Finau ki he Kanivá ʻokú lahi ʻaupito he ngaahi ʻahó ni ʻa e fefolauʻaki ia ʻa hotau kakaí ʻi Tonga pe hange ko e ō ki he mali, putu pe faiʻaho pea ʻokú ne ʻosi mateuteu lahi mo e Fly Niu ke feau ʻa e fiemaʻu lahi ko ʻeni ʻi he māketí.
      Naʻá ne pehē moʻoni pe ʻokú ne fiemaʻu paʻanga ka kiate ia koloa pe ke tō ʻene fakamolé pea maʻu pe ha tupu feʻunga ko ʻene feʻungá ʻana ia.
      Naʻá ne pehē ka maʻamaʻa feʻunga pe totongi puná ki he kakaí pea ʻoange ʻa e sēvesi lelei tahá pea ʻe lava ke tolotolonga ʻa e faifatongiá ʻi ha toe taʻu lahi ange.
      Fakatatau ki he hisitōliá naʻe fokotuʻu ʻe he Puleʻanga Tongá ʻi he 2004 ʻa e polisī pe fokotuʻutuʻu ngāue ke taha pe ʻa e kautaha vakapuna ke ne fakalele fepunaʻaki fakalotofonuá, peá ne ʻoange ʻe ia ʻa e faingmālie koi á maʻa e kautaha ʻa Kingi Siaosi V mo e ongo Manilalá.
      Naʻe fakahā ʻe he Fly Niu ia ki mui naʻe ʻikai toe fie ʻapalai haʻanau kole laiseni ʻa kinautolu ʻi hono fakahā mai ko ia ʻe he puleʻangá ke toe fakahū foʻou ange haʻane kole laiseni kae vakaiʻi pe ko hai ʻi ai mo e Peau Vavaʻú ʻe ʻoange ki ai ʻa e laisení. Pehē ʻe Fīnaú ne ne ongoʻi pe ʻe ia ʻe ʻoange pe faingamālie ia maʻa e Peau Vavaʻú koeʻuhi ko e tuʻí.
      Naʻe iku puke heni ʻe he Puleʻanga Tongá ʻa e vakapuna Dash 8-series ʻa e Fly Niu koeʻuhi ko ha ngaahi totongi ne teʻeki fakakakato ʻa ia ne pehē ʻe Finau ne tuʻunga ia he kuo teʻeki ke tupu e kautaha ia kuo fai hono fokotuʻutuʻu ʻo na ke tamateʻí.
      Naʻá ne pehē he taimi koi á naʻa nau fokotuʻutuʻu ken au fakalele fepunaʻaki ʻa Tonga ke aʻu ki he taʻu ʻe 15 pe 20 nai.
      Naʻe taʻofi e laiseni fepunaʻaki ʻa e Peau Vavaʻú hili pe ha taʻu ʻe ua ʻene faifatongiá pea pehē foki ki he lahi ʻa hono fakaangaʻi ʻe he kakaí ko e kovi ʻenau sēvesí. Naʻe iku pe ʻo toki fakangata moʻoni ʻene faifatongiá hili ia hano tutu honau ʻōfisí.


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