Real Tonga Airlines (R4, Tongatapu) is planning to commence international operations with flights to neighbouring Pacific islands slated for June CEO Tevita Palu has told the Matangi Tonga newspaper.

Services will be undertaken once new larger aircraft are acquired, he said. Currently the carrier plies an exclusively domestic network serving Eua, Niuafo'ou, Ha'apai, Niuatoputapu, and Vava'u using a Y12 and a Jetstream 32 leased from Australia's FlyPelican (FP, Newcastle Williamtown). An additional Jetstream, sourced from New Zealand, is expected to arrive later on in April.

Real Tonga could face competition, however, in the form of a new start-up, Royal Tonga Airlines (Tongatapu), which plans to use a pair of MA-60s to operate its own international flights.

Backed by both foreign and local investors which include the former Tongan Deputy Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu, Royal Tonga will acquire an MA-60 from China in addition to operating the government's MA-60, A3-RTL (cn 904), once the type has been certified under Tonga's revised aviation regulations.