Zealand carrier Air Chathams has
started operating domestically in Tonga
at the behest of Tonga’s
Government in a move that comes after local airline Peasu
Vava’u shut down and the other domestic carrier,
Airlines Tonga, downsized considerably.
quality manager Murray McPhail says the carrier recently
became the country’s second domestic operator after being approached by the
incumbent carrier is Airlines Tonga but McPhail says:
“Air Chathams was approached by the Government of Tonga
because the performance of Airlines Tonga was not what the Government thought
it should be.”
has “had difficulty maintaining a schedule” because it has scaled down to one
aircraft, an Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante,
whereas previously Airlines Tonga also had two Harbin Y12s.
says Airlines Tonga would sometimes call in Air Chathams
to operate some domestic services when the Bandeirante
got behind in its schedule but now Airlines Tonga and Air Chathams
Chathams is operating
domestically using a Convair 580 and a Fairchild Metroliner. It also uses the Convair
580 for a service from Tonga
to Tuvalu via Suva
this month it plans to add a Britten-Norman Islander for
domestic services, adds McPhail.
Islander will be on a four-month lease from New
Zealand carrier Great Barrier Airlines and
after that Air Chathams plans to replace it with
another Islander it will be buying from Great Barrier, he says.
Islander is needed for grass airstrips in the north of the country that the Convair and Metroliner are unable
to land on, he adds.
used to have another airline, Peasu Vava’u, that operated domestically using a Douglas DC-3 but last
year the aircraft was grounded in the need of maintenance, says McPhail.
The aircraft has yet to undergo maintenance and that airline’s air
operator’s certificate has since expired, he adds.
Air Chathams is based in and
derives its name from New Zealand’s
Chatham Islands. The carrier’s fleet
comprises four Convair 580s, one Cessna 208 and the Metroliner.