From Tom Tolo-Kuno'u (8 April 2006)

Additionally commenting on the article by Mick Beddoes from the Fijitimes Online dated 4 April 2006, I also would like to say that the flight service to Rotuma was and is absolutely pathetic and unprofessional.

What I don't understand is after all this time the aviation management has not improved. Well, let me tell you why.

On a special trip to Fiji/Rotuma during late November 2003 with my father and sister, I made arrangements to charter a flight to Rotuma and back from Nausori airport. An up-front payment was made to one of the airport personnel (I'll hold off stating his name) with the understanding that there wouldn't be any problems. However, to help offset the expense, I was advised that I could have anyone, in addition to my immediately family members, make payments to either one of us. I was also told that they would announce, or make it known in the next four days, the availability of seats on the flight (maximum of three more allowed).

A day before the flight I talked to the airport personnel handling my arrangements and asked about the situation and the additional passengers. To my surprise, there was no one else added to the list. I asked why and was told that it wasn't announced because no aviation fuel was available on the island for refueling. The aircraft would need the remaining fuel to return, and so the number of passengers could not be more than six.

On the day of our return (three days later), we waited to fly out at 2 pm but ended up flying out at 4 pm. Not only did we have a delay, but I found out that a special passenger was almost bumped off.

I had made prior arrangements to have this special passenger catch that flight to Rotuma. When that passenger (aged 78) got off, she told me that she almost lost her seat for someone more important. Who do these (airport) people think they are? This was a chartered flight. I should have the final word. Anyway, that wasn't the only thing. I found out that another passenger on that flight was allowed a staff discount price. I couldn’t believe it.

The day of arrival was on a Friday afternoon at 6 pm. Apparently I wasn’t going to be able to talk to the appropriate person until the following week. On Monday of the following week my sister and I headed up to the finance office and demanded an explanation of the staff discount authorization, and a refund. Obviously, paper trails are involved. I suggested that they fully refund me while I was still on the island. Do you think they met my demand? Not at all!

The bottom line is that the aviation management at that airport facility needs to be revamped.