Nauru Airlines (ON, Nauru) and Real Tonga Airlines (RLT, Tongatapu) have entered a wet-lease arrangement under which the Nauru flag carrier will provide aircraft capacity for flights from Tongatapu to Nadi and Auckland Int'l, the airlines have revealed in a joint statement.

The initial schedule to commence in November 2019 will include 2x weekly flights, with the intention to increase to 3x weekly "as soon as possible". Other destinations such as Brisbane Int'l and other Australian cities may follow, and the airlines are also "working collaboratively towards implementing a closer long-term alliance", the statement said.

Real Tonga uses a twenty-three-year-old Saab 340B(Plus) to operate domestic flights throughout the Tongan islands and a route to Samoa (Vava'u to Apia Faleolo), according to ch-aviation capacities. The airline also has an inactive MA-60/-600. However, CEO Tevita Palu recently commented that it was closely monitoring growth in demand for travel from China and was looking to acquire a second Saab 340B+, according to Smart Aviation Asia Pacific.

The new arrangement with Nauru Airlines introduces the start of broader international operations to Real Tonga, which to date have been dominated by foreign carriers, Tevita Palu, managing director, stressed in the joint statement.

“This will be the first time in recent years a local carrier will be able to provide these much-needed services, and we expect this will provide an enormous benefit to the Tongan community by providing better connectivity and more capacity,” said Palu.

Nauru Airlines, which has a fleet of four B737-300s, also continues to lease B737 capacity to fellow Pacific island carrier Air Vanuatu (NF, Port Vila) to cover demand on the latter's international routes during peak seasons until January 2020, for new services between Brisbane and both Espiritu Santo and Port Vila, and to increase frequencies to Sydney Kingsford Smith and Auckland, an agreement that started in February 2018.