Real Tonga’s General Manager Commercial and Deputy Chief Executive Officer Tele Faletau has apologised for problems experienced by a passenger we reported earlier this week.
But he said the delay to her flight was caused by mechanical problems with an aircraft and denied that she had been offloaded from a later flight to make way for another passenger.
“We are very sorry that Mrs Kaihea was delayed in getting back to Vava’u which was due to aircraft serviceability,” Faletau said.
As Kaniva News reported, Seini Kaihea’s husband Alex Kaihea claimed his wife was given a boarding pass, but was stopped as she was about to enter the aircraft and told her name was not on the list.
He said there were suspicions that the airline had given her seat to another man who had just purchased his ticket at the counter.
He said he was devastated when his wife called him crying and explained what had happened to her at the Fu’amotu airport.
The Kaiheas, who live in Australia, flew from Brisbane to Tonga on December 17 on their way to Vava’u for a family reunion and to participate in the St Peter Chanel College 50th anniversary.
His wife bought a return ticket on Real Tonga to Nuku’alofa on December 19, with a return ticket to Vava’u on December 24 on the 10.45am flight.
This afternoon, Wednesday 9 Tele Faletau, Real Tonga’s General Manager Commercial and Deputy Chief Executive Officer confirmed that Mrs Kaihea was booked on flight number RT801 Tongatapu to Vava’u on December 24.
“She took advantage of a special low fare that we were offering on a limited basis to customers during December,” Faletau said.
The fare was discounted by 50 percent and had conditions appeared in the ticket in which a copy was sent and seen by Kaniva.
He said the flight on which Mrs Kaihea was booked, was to be operated by the company’s SAAB 340 aircraft.
However, the flight had to be cancelled because of a maintenance issue.
This meant passengers on this flight had to be re-scheduled to other services throughout the day.
He said that contrary to the Kaihea’s statement, Real Tonga does not check-in its passengers. This service is contracted to Air Terminal Services Ltd.
When the flight was cancelled, Mrs Kaihea was checked on to the next flight, as there were seats showing as being available.
However, when the passengers who were originally booked onto this next flight checked in, the available weight on the aircraft was exceeded.
This meant Real Tonga had to offload seven passengers.
Faletau said several announcements were made over the terminal PA system, requesting that seven passengers (called by name) come to the check-in desk, so that the situation could be explained.
He said Mrs Kaihea was included in this call, but she did not present herself to the check-in desk and may have been outside the terminal and unable to hear the announcement.
The remaining six passengers did present themselves and were advised of the situation.
Mrs Kaihea was advised of the situation when she presented herself for boarding, he said.
He said claims that an ex-government CEO paid for his ticket at the counter and was given favourable treatment were untrue.
The person to whom she was referring had already booked and paid for the flight.
“I trust that the information provided above will clearly demonstrate that we certainly did not put another passenger on a higher priority than Mrs Kaihea,” he said.
The main points
- Real Tonga’s General Manager Commercial and Deputy Chief Executive Officer Tele Faletau has apologised for problems experienced by a passenger we reported earlier this week.
- He said the delay to her flight was caused by mechanical problems and denied that she had been offloaded from a later flight to make way for another passenger.
- “We are very sorry that Mrs Kaihea was delayed in getting back to Vava’u which was due to aircraft serviceability,” Faletau said.
- He said claims that an ex-government CEO was given favourable treatmentr were untrue.
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