Lulutai Airlines (L8, Tongatapu) is actively seeking leased capacity to replace its Saab 340B(Plus) that was taken out of service indefinitely after it struck a cement block and sustained significant damage during a runway excursion event while taxiing at Fua'amotu Airport on December 8, 2023.

"While on the apron [taxiing] back to the terminal, upon turning, the Saab 340 experienced a technical issue," reads a Lulutai Airlines statement. "The aircraft turned and hit a cement block on the side of the apron. The aircraft's wing became lodged on the cement block. There were 35 passengers on board. No passengers were injured or physically harmed."

A3-PUA (msn 408) was operating a scheduled flight from Tongatapu to Vava'u when a technical problem, reportedly a hydraulic issue, required the aircraft to return. Local outlets report the Saab (Sweden) (SCT, Linköping Saab) experienced a landing gear collapse after losing direction control after landing. Images circulating on social media show the aircraft's right engine resting on the cement block and the right wing landing gear collapsed. Lulutai Airlines CEO Poasi Tei told ch-aviation that a full damage assessment still needed to be completed, and the airline remained unsure about the extent of the repair work required and how long it would take. A3-PUA is leased to the state-owned Tongan carrier by Montrose Global.

"Our top priority now is to acquire an aircraft (dry or wet lease) to address capacity constraints in our domestic network with immediate effect," he added.

The aircraft is one of two Lulutai Airlines uses on its inter-island network. The second aircraft is a recently delivered DHC-6-400. The airline also has a single Y12 that does not appear to be in regular service. Lulutai Airlines advises both it and the Civil Aviation Division at Tonga's Ministry of Infrastructure are investigating the incident.