China to finance new Tongan domestic airline – report
A new, second domestic airline in the Kingdom of Tonga will take to the skies by early next year, according to the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu, reports Tonga’s online news resource Matangi Tonga. Mr Vaipulu made the statement in the Tongan parliament last week.<!--more-->
A US$25 million grant agreement signed with the People’s Republic of China earlier this month would make that possible, Mr Vaipulu said. The grant includes the cost of new aircraft and the recruitment of pilots and engineers for three years of operations. Tongans will be trained as aircraft engineers and pilots in China. The grant also includes spare parts over the three year period.
Minister of Finance, Lisiate 'Akolo, said that a task force had been formed to look at the number of options of how to structure an entity to administer the new domestic air service, reports Matangi Tonga.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Vaipulu, said that in early July a pilot from the Ministry and an aviation engineer from the private sector, Tevita Palu, would be sent to Laos and China to observe the operation of this type of aircraft, the online resource reports.