Lulutai Airlines (L8, Tongatapu) is hoping to complete its certification in time for a September 21, 2020 launch on domestic routes, Tongan Chief Secretary Edgar Cocker told public broadcaster Radio & TV Tonga.

The new state-owned airline submitted its certification documents to the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) on June 19 with a deadline of 90 days to complete the process.

In the initial phase of operations, Lulutai Airlines is planning to operate domestic routes within Tonga with one S340B(Plus) and one Y12. The aircraft will be transferred from Real Tonga Airlines (R4, Tongatapu), its defunct privately-owned predecessor. The Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation turboprop is owned by the Government of Tonga, while the Saab (Sweden) aircraft is dry-leased from Montrose Global.

Real Tonga's Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) was suspended indefinitely by the Tongan Director for Civil Aviation on June 15 due to the carrier's financial problems.

The Government of Tonga also owns a MA-60 which will be made available to the new flag carrier. However, the aircraft is currently not airworthy and will only undergo maintenance once borders reopen and foreign specialists can visit Tonga.