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Concern raised in parliament over high airfares from Tbu to Vava’u

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 20/06/2017

 

The issue of expensive airfares from Tongatapu to Vava’u had been repeatedly raised in Parliament.

 

This morning people’s representative of Vava’u 16 – ‘Akosita Lavulavu requested that a select committee or a special taskforce be set up to look into the issue.

 

Lavulavu also believed that the Local air operator has collected a net profit of 1 million pa’anga per month or an estimated profit of more than 12 million pa’anga per annum.

 

She said this is apart from the costs incurred   by the company, including payment of TOP$1500.00 lease per hour of the aircraft to government, salaries and wages of aircrafts’ crew, insurance and others.

 

In response the Minister of Civil Aviation – Hon. Semisi Sika said there will be conflicts as there are three authorities involved to review the issue including the Finance Ministry, Civil Aviation and Tonga Airport Limited.

 

During the Deliberations the Prime Minister – Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva apologized to the Members of Parliament for their failure to address the issue.

 

He said this problem should never happen as both MA60 and Y12 aircraft are Government owned.

 

Meanwhile the Minister of Public Enterprises – Hon Poasi Tei told the house there is no legislation to govern the fare rates and their only option is to ensure competition in the market.

 

There was also concern raised over inclusion of a TOP$11.50 on every ticket per destination but Hon. Tei confirmed this money will be provided for the maintenance of the airports, approved in 2008.

 

In previous weeks – Tonga Airport Limited denied imposing levy that Real Tonga’s domestic services recently charged on air fares.

 

Contacts were made to the CEO of Real Tonga Tevita Palu but he was not available, however in previous interviews he told Radio Tonga high airfares should be in place to ensure that they can continue to serve the public.

 

At the same time to cater for their financial needs – such as refilling of the aircraft, maintenance, insurance, lease of the aircraft, and others.

 

Also the levy imposed is according to the legislation.

 

However during the deliberations in the Committee of the Whole House this morning – the second Petition submitted to the House was read this morning.

 

The petition is from the people of Constituency 1 -Kolomotu’a saying they did not support their people’s representative’s decision who is the Prime Minister top cancel Tonga hosting the sports.

 

Fe’ao Vakata – people’s representative of the Two Niuas also called on Government to continue hosting the 2019 Games.

 

‘Akosita Lavulavu then proposed to the House to refer to the Organizing Committee to submit all their financial reports to the house dated back to 2013.

 

But Lord Nuku said this report had been submitted to Government after legal actions between the Government and the OC.

 

© Radio and Television Tonga News