1 July 2020 The Director for Civil Aviation wishes to correct information that was put out on Radio FM 87.5, in statements made by Tevita Palu, today 1 July, 2020.
- Real Tonga Ltd’s Air Operator’ Certificate was lawfully suspended by the Director of Civil Aviation on 15 June, 2020.
- The decision to suspend a license is made solely by the Director for Civil Aviation under the Civil Aviation Act 2014.
- In order to ensure safety of air travel, and in order to be independent, the Civil Aviation Act 2014 does not allow the Director to be directed by anyone, including the Government, in relation to the issuance of certificates.
- Real Tonga Ltd’s Air Operator Certificate was suspended by the Director of Civil Aviation on 15 June, 2020. The reasons being that Real Tonga Ltd no longer employed the Senior Staff who are an essential safety requirement for any airline to hold a certificate.
- Real Tonga Ltd terminated the employment contracts of their senior staff on 3 April, 2020. Real Tonga Ltd then signed a MOUs with these Senior Staffs to continue working without pay until 1 June, 2020.
- The suspension of Real Tonga Ltd’s Air Operator Certificate will continue until their Senior Staff has been replaced according to the law. Real Tonga Ltd did not complete their application for the replacement of Senior Staffs until 25 June, 2020. The application is currently being reviewed by the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO), according to the law.
- While assessing Real Tonga’s license application, the Pacific Aviation Safety Office highlighted concerns about the financial status of Real Tonga Ltd. Even before Covid19, Real Tonga Ltd was had debts in excess of TOP$5 millions, not including significant debts to local and overseas suppliers.
- Real Tonga Ltd has been approached to work together with the Government on a joint airline venture, but Real Tonga Ltd has always put conditions before working with the Government. This included the forgiveness of Real Tonga Ltd debts to Government. This loss be borne by the taxpayers of Tonga.
- The Director of Civil Aviation has no objection to Real Tonga Ltd continuing to operate, and will issue the required licenses if and when Real Tonga Ltd successfully completes the application process.
- Finally, the Director for Civil Aviation supports the Government’s decision to consider bringing domestic air services back into the hands of the people of Tonga. The Director also supports an airline that can be well funded to ensure safety and security of air travel, an airline that is accountable to the people of Tonga. Such an airline that would have a good chance to operate long term, and grow. This would be a new domestic airline, owned by the people of Tonga, operated for the people of Tonga
For further details or comment, please contact Mr Kilifi Havea, Director for Civil Aviation, Ministry for Infrastructure, Phone: (676)28 024 or (676)770 2634.
TALI ‘A E TALEKITA KI HE FEFOLAU’AKI VAKAPUNA SIVILE KI HE FAKAMATALA KUO TUKU MAI HE CEO ‘O E REAL TONGA ‘I HE LETIO FM 87.5
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