Bad News re:Tongan Domestic Airline Flights
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Jan 29, 2013 12:05 PM Last Post By: finsnflukes
Jan 17, 2013 11:17 AM
Bad News re:Tongan Domestic Airline FlightsVisitors to Tonga have been well served since Chathams Pacific Airline started service-many of us remember the Bad Old Days when the government owned clown show left early or failed to show up at all before going broke.
Sadly those days may come again-Chathams may quit the business because of Tongan govt interference -which is code for graft & corruption as per SOP in one of the planet's most corrupt countries.
Chathams Airline To End Local Flights In Tonga
CEO cites government-subsidized competition
NUKUALOFA, Tonga – Tonga's sole domestic inter-islands airline, the Chathams Pacific will discontinue its scheduled air services in Tonga on Saturday 3 March 2013, after less than five years operation, due to a loss of business confidence, after the Tonga government moved to procure aircraft from China.
Craig Emeny, the CEO of Chathams Pacific Airlines has told Tonga's Prime Minister: "I have now lost business confidence in Tonga due to the government's attitude towards my airline, and I won't continue providing the domestic air services."
He made the statement in a letter to the Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano earlier this month, pointing out that the government’s decision to sponsor air service competition by giving a donated aircraft from China to an airline that had yet to be established, would make Chathams Pacific operation unsustainable in the future.
He wrote that early in 2012 they found out that the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Civil Aviation Division (CAD) were: "heavily involved with procuring Chinese aircraft and facilitating a competitor to operate in competition to my airline.
"We advised the Minister and the Director of our concerns regarding the Director being involved in commercial activities. It is not an acceptable or a healthy situation where the CAD is involved with introducing aircraft to compete with an existing airline."
In the letter Craig expressed his disappointment with a change in the mood of government officials today, compared to when they were invited in 2007 to set up an airline in Tonga because of the failure of another national airline at that time to provide a reliable service for the whole of Tonga, including 'Eua and the Niuas.
He expressed his frustration over not getting any response from the Prime Minister’s office for his request to discuss their concerns, "and the poor relationship with the Civil Aviation Division has also motivated my decision to withdraw."
Noel Gillespie, the General Manager of Chathams Pacific and Air Chatham told Matangi Tonga today that he met the Acting Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure, and the Minister for Finance yesterday, Tuesday, 15 January and outlined their position.
He said that Chathams Pacific had offered a charter service, to run an interim inter-islands air service until the new inter-islands airline comes into operation in mid-June.
Noel said there was no firm response from the two Ministers, and a decision on their offer would be made when the Prime Minister returned to Tonga in the weekend.
Noel said the only way now that might change their mind and stay on in Tonga would be for government to issue Chathams with a "SOE- State Owned Enterprise" notification.
Domestic air service
Meanwhile, the Acting Prime Minister Hon. Samiu Vaipulu told Matangi Tonga Online this afternoon, that a 52-seat aircraft would arrive from China in April, two months earlier than was initially anticipated, and the aircraft would service the outer islands of Tonga.
He said that a new airline company had not been formed but the management of the new 52-seater aircraft would be tendered out.
He did not think that the domestic air-service would be disrupted after Chathams Pacific discontinued their operation in Tonga, on 2 March. He said that a local company Palu Aviation had stepped in and would service the outer islands with a leased 17-seat aircraft from Vanuatu.
"This aircraft is expected to arrive in Tonga on February 25 and will start operation on March 4," explained the Acting Prime Minister.
Chathams Pacific commenced operations in the Kingdom Of Tonga in April 2008 and have a fleet of six aircraft servicing six ports ('Eua, Tongatapu, Ha'apai, Vava'u, Niuatoputapu and Niuafo'ou). The aircraft include a fully restored Vintage DC3 to a classic era 50 seat Convair 580 as well as more modern aircraft. According to its website, Chathams Pacific have an engineering unit based in Tongatapu and also rotate the Convair 580 and Metroliner to its New Zealand base for scheduled heavy maintenance.
Jan 18, 2013 12:26 PM
Jan 18, 2013 10:23 PM
Jan 26, 2013 3:49 PM
3More news none of it good
Tonga Businesses Worried Over Local Air Services
Average lifespan of domestic airlines about 3.6 years
NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 24, 2013) – The pull-out of Chathams-Pacific airline and government plans to lease out two gifted aircraft has got businesses nervous over the uncertainty of ongoing domestic air services and their economic reliability.
At a Tonga Chamber of Commerce & Industry members event yesterday, January 23, the local business community expressed their frustration at Chathams-Pacific's decision to end its service in Tonga. Questions were raised over the reliability of a replacement locally-run airline.
The meeting came eight days after Chathams-Pacific's General Manager Noel Gillespie announced the airline would be ending its service in Tonga, saying they had lost "business confidence in Tonga" after discovering government's intentions to facilitate competition by leasing aircrafts to an alternative air service.
Short life of airlines
Former Minister of Transport, Paul Karalus, a veteran of the Tonga's airline industry, presented a view on Tonga's 40 years of domestic airline services, and said that Tonga has had eleven airlines, with an average life of 3.6 years for each airline. "This is not good on an international scale."
His paper outlined the issues to be taken into account when determining the minimum regulatory and economic requirements, "for adequate, reliable and safe domestic air services for the Kingdom."
He criticized a Chinese-built aircraft project for Tonga.
"There has yet to be full and total consultation of the public despite the government apparently embarking on a major exercise in the acquisition and operation of aircraft from the People's Republic of China. While heralded as a "grant" the public needs to be aware of the huge call for capital that will be required to establish a new airline, and, once operational, of sustaining its viability," he said.
He explained how it was important to match the aircraft type to the market for it to be economically sustainable and profitable. "Pricing of air services is very much dependent on an optimum match of aircraft to routes, the traffic on those routes and the economic utilization of the aircraft chosen," he said.
"Even a gifted aircraft has numerous costs involved, not least of which is the replacement cost at the end of its useful life."
Paul believed the new aircraft the MA60 and Harbin Y12 would be a commercial failure in Tonga because they would not meet the market needs and the highly valued MA60 would require a lease rate that the market could not support.
He stated the MA60 model, "being a 60 seater aircraft means that it would operate less than 1000 hours per year; an unsustainable level for a new aircraft, both economically and financially. Regional services could increase this, but the cost of certification would be beyond Tonga’s financial capacity."
A member pointed out that the MA60 was not certified in the U.S., UK, New Zealand or Australia.
Paul added that the 17-seater Harbin Y12 would be "impossible" to run commercially in Tonga because it would not be able to accommodate fuel costs with lower pay loads.
"Fuel costs, the minimum fuel loads required for the sector and, now, the considerably higher body weights of passengers in Tonga, all combine to make such aircrafts uneconomical as they cannot carry an economic revenue payload over the sector."
Paul said the government "has yet to divulge its scheme to reenter the domestic airline industy. The government has obviously been in negotiation with the People's Republic of China to provide assistance in supporting the domestic airline industry." He believed that a government task force had been set up "to further the intention of government to accept a grant from the PRC of up to US$25 million equivalent for the supply for aircraft and initial operational support."
"The Deputy Prime Minister told the House on 18 June 2012 that the task force included members from Tonga Airports Ltd., Air Terminal Services, Palu Aviation and others to work on the details of the project before it was brought back to the House for final approval."
But Paul believed that it had not been brought back to the House since then.
He said the project was said to be one where government receives aircraft as gifts "and then passes this on to the private sector for it to be operated."
Paul said this opened a number of questions that need to be answered.
"The question we now have now in Tonga is really this: can the market sustain more than one airline and can the economy of that one airline be improved upon to make air services more affordable and safe?
"To fully answer this question requires a lot more thought than the simplistic idea that 'competition results in cheaper services' when it may well be that the result will be a spasmodic boom for the travelling public followed by a bust for the airlines.
"To think that two airlines can provide competition is probably not going to happen. The real competition for an airline here is the ferry," said Paul.
In conclusion, he said "consideration needs to be given for where best for Tonga and Tongans to direct local scarce capital."
Concerns were expressed by Chamber members over safety issues and ongoing uncertainties.
One of the largest tourism operators in Vava'u, Shane Walker said that Chathams Pacific was the first airline to pull out rather than go broke and he questioned their reasons. He said that in the eight days since the Chathams Pacific announcement it had caused over NZD$80,000 US$46,053 in yacht charter and resort cancellations. "This is a Chathams decision and what follows is a period of uncertainty." He said he was gravely concerned that the uncertainties could lead to international tourism operators simply pulling out of Tonga and relocating their investments elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Real Tonga has announced today, January 24, that it will commence air service on the 4th March after securing a lease of two Y-12 aircrafts from Vanuatu.
Jan 26, 2013 3:53 PM
4Since I can't edit the post I just made.
Info on Real Tonga
"Real Tonga" domestic airline to start flying March 4
Nuku'alofa, Tonga Real Tonga a new Tongan-owned domestic airline today announced they had secured the lease of two Y-12 aircraft and will start servicing Tonga's outer islands on 4 March 2013.
Tevita Palu, the Chief Executive Officer of Real Tonga and Palu Aviation Services Ltd. in a press release said in addition to its 17 seater Y-12 aircrafts, Real Tonga had available to it a 9-seater BN2 Islander, a 19-seater DHC6 Twin Otters and a 68 seater ATR72-500 aircraft.
"These will be introduced in accordance with passenger-demand and season. However, initially the two Y-12 aircrafts will commence the operation."
He said the flight schedule would be published on its website www.realtonga.to by January 28 and bookings could be made online or by contacting their office in Nuku'alofa.
The airline would start advertising its posts Immediately for the recruitment and selection of personnel including management, pilots, engineers, ground and administration staff, he said.
Real Tonga was committed to ensuring that domestic air transport in the Kingdom is not disrupted and that it has adequate seat capacity.
"Our goal is to provide the travelling public with an airline that has safety as its main priority and is customer focused," he said.
Tevita is expected to return to Tonga from Vanuatu on January 25 after securing the lease for the two Y-12 aircrafts.
Tonga's sole domestic inter-islands airline, the Chathams Pacific of New Zealand last week announced it would discontinue its scheduled air services on Saturday 2 March 2013 due to a loss of business confidence, after the Tonga government moved to procure aircraft from China.
The aircraft from China are now expected to arrive in April, two months earlier than was initially anticipated, to service the outer islands.
Tonga's Deputy Prime Minister Hon Samiu Vaipulu in a press conference on January 18 said it was unfortunate that Chathams is pulling out, but Government's move to introduce the aircraft from China to operate the domestic air service was to provide competition and offer cheaper airfares.
He did not think that the domestic air-service would be disrupted after Chathams Pacific discontinued their operation in Tonga on March 2.
While Government has not announced plans for the management of the aircraft from China he said it would remain independent of its operation.
Jan 28, 2013 12:11 PM
5I was within moments of booking a flight from Los Angeles to Tonga when I got word that Chathams Pacific was pulling out. Sadly, I will be looking for another destination this August. There is too much uncertainty to risk booking a trip without reliable transportation among the islands.
Jan 28, 2013 4:24 PM
Jan 29, 2013 12:05 PM
7The new airline is now accepting bookings.
Welcome back to Tonga for the Humpback Whale season 2013 everyone!!
Real Tonga is a Tongan owned and managed domestic airline established with the purpose of serving the people of Tonga and its visitors. It is pleased to inform the general public, that it has now secured the lease of two (2) 17-seater Y-12 aircraft, for the commencement of its domestic air operations by the 4th March 2013.
The flight schedule is to be published on its website: www.realtonga.to by the 28th January 2013. Bookings will be made online or by contacting 23777. Immediately, recruitment and selection of personnel including management, pilots, engineers, and ground and administration staff will commence. This will include advertisements in the local and regional media.
Real Tonga has available to it a 9-seater BN2 Islander, a 19-seater DHC6 Twin Otters and a 68-seater ATR72-500 aircraft. These will be introduced in accordance with passenger demand and season. However, initially the two (2) Y-12 aircraft will commence the operation.
Real Tonga is committed to ensuring that domestic air transport in our Kingdom is not disrupted, and that it has available adequate seat capacity to cope accordingly.
Our goal is to provide the travelling public with an airline that has safety as its main priority and is customer focused.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Tevita Palu
Chief Executive Officer
REAL – Tonga / Palu Aviation Services Ltd
Ph +676 23777
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