Growing tree branches near runway cancel ‘Eua flight service, says CEO

    Te'eki ha puna vakapuna ki 'Eua uike nai eni e 5 tupu mei he 'ulu'akau kuo lalahi ia 'o uesia ai e to'anga vakapuna'. Kuo tu'utu'uni ai e Real Tonga ke ki'i ta'ofi fakataimi kae oleva ke fai ha ngaue ki ai. Ko e mafai ki he palopalema' ni 'oku 'i he Fefolau'aki Vakapuna Sivilie'. Ne 'osi fai fetu'utaki ki ai ke 'omi ha'anau lau.

    Tree branches growing near the runway at ‘Eua’s Kaufana domestic airport have caused Real Tonga to cancel flights.

    The airline’s CEO, Tēvita Palu, said there had been no flights to ‘Eua for  five weeks.

    Palu said he made the decision to cancel the services because he feared the trees could cause an accident to aircraft when they landed.

    He said he had met with the Minister of Civil Aviation, Hon Sēmisi Sika, and was told the Ministry would cut down the branches, but nothing had been done yet.

    Hon Sika has been contacted for comment.

    ‘Eua is not the only airport where Real Tonga faces problems.

    At Ha’apai airport, rolling stones on the runway have caused a lot of damage to the airlines’ aircraft over the past six years.

    Palu said he had repeatedly met with the airport’s authorities and had been told they would work on it, but until now nothing had been done.

    Palu said replacement parts for aircraft were extremely expensive and when they were damaged it cost his company great losses.

    He said he feared that when the Free Wesleyan Church upcoming conference began in Ha’apai his aircraft would not be able to service the islands.

    Palu said the issue with the ‘Eua airport was easy to resolve and he did not know why the authorities did not do it.

    He said the problem not only caused the service to be cancelled, but also cost his pilots and staff because they had no income for that period.

    Another problem was that the company had already purchased their fuel from an overseas company.

    The fuel for the aircraft had an expiry date, which meant when the ‘Eua services will return the fuel was expired and they have to buy another fuel.

    Real Tonga operates five aircraft on its domestic services.

    It will begin its first regional services between Apia, Samoa and Tongatapu through Vava’u International Airport on June 29.

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