Fast and convenient.
That’s the words used by Vice President of Foodlinx Inc, Joel Wienstien, to describe Talofa Air’s new direct flight to Tonga.
The first flight was on Saturday with seven passengers.
Frequent traveller, Mr. Wienstien from Burlingame California, was in Samoa for business with his wife and on their way back home, took the Tonga route.
“This is actually beneficial for business travelers. Our past flights to Tonga takes up almost the whole day,” he said.
“It’s four hours from Samoa to Nadi then we wait another five hours before checking in and then there is a long line. I mean it’s just dreadful. But not with Talofa. We fly directly to Tonga for close to two hours. Can’t beat that, can you?”
The couple behind the initiative is Chief Executive Officer of Talofa Airways, Tole’afoa Jeffrey and his wife, Maria Hunter. They say the flight is a milestone for Samoa.
“We had chartered flights to Tonga but this is our first scheduled international flight,” said Toleafoa. “It takes two hours and 50 minutes to get to Tonga.”
Toleafoa was ecstatic given the airline is not a year old. It already provides flights between Samoa and American Samoa.
He assured the flights to Tonga would not affect Talofa Airways’ daily flights between Samoa and American Samoa.
“We know this route to Tonga will be a successful move for the Airline. As you can see the twin commander aircrafts which are from the United States of America is small.
“But nonetheless, big achievements come from small things. These are the same aircrafts that are being utilized by the businesses and corporate companies in U.S.A and Europe to travel long distance.
“They are truly capable of long flights.”
He said the previous chartered flights directly to Tonga, and the flight was a bit rough due to the weather.
“But other than that, it was a good flight. This airplane can fly high up to where there is ice in the clouds, that’s how high this airplane can go. This Airplane has gadgets that can automatically remove the ice sticking on the plane.”
Regarding the first flight out to Tonga, the C.E.O said there a total of nine people going, six passengers, including one staff, the Pilot and Co-Pilot.
He said their first flight out of American Samoa on Monday there will be nine passengers.
But it won't stop here. Talofa Air is looking at adding another route.
“Our next route is to the Manu’a Islands and then we want to expand this service to Niue, Wallis & Futuna and other neighbouring islands.
“Once the route to Tonga is stabilized, we will definitely look at flying to Manu’a. That’s another step the airline anticipates to take, of course there will be challenges, but this is a service.
“And that’s what Talofa is all about, catering to the needs of our traveling population.”
According to the C.E.O, there are four scheduled flights per week - two from Samoa on Tuesday and Saturday and two from American Samoa on Monday and Friday (Sunday and Thursday Pago days).
They are available for sale for return or one-way fares.
Flights from Tonga to Samoa will be on Monday and Friday and to American Samoa these will be on Tuesday and Saturday (Monday and Friday Pago days).