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Nuku'alofa (Fua'amotu) (TBU)

Tonga's main airport has a somewhat confusing name, and not just because of the spelling! Officially it's called Fua'amotu International Airport, although most people refer to it as Nuku'alofa, after the Tongan capital, about 15 km northwest of the airport. It's also known as Tongatapu, this being the name of the actual island where the airport is situated. Whatever you want to call it there's not much to see here, however. It's Royal Tongan Airlines' home base, but since the airline currently owns only two aircraft (for domestic flights), this side of the action is never going to be busy. Perhaps one or two international flights a day complete the picture here. And don't forget that everything (including the airport) closes all day on Sundays!

There seem to be various places around the airport that could allow decent photographs here. As well as the viewing deck on the terminal, the road layout around the airport would appear to offer good possibilities for action shots, although I didn't get the chance to actually investigate any other areas. It's just those hours of waiting around for anything to happen that might put you off!

a) The impressive new terminal was opened in July 1991 and, quite amazingly, features a substantial viewing deck (although the fact that it was financed by Japan may have had something to do with this - if only everywhere could be so considerate!). This overlooks the entire apron and runway, and should theoretically be an excellent spot for photos. Unfortunately there are a number of lighting poles right in front of it which could get in the way of whatever you want to photograph if it's parked, but there shouldn't be any problems with moving aircraft (assuming there were any!).
The photos below were actually taken on arrival at the airport while walking to the terminal, but shots from the viewing deck would be similar, just from higher up.

5W-ILF RA-82006
Polynesian Airlines  Boeing 737
Russian Air Force (Aeroflot)

b) The old terminal is located off to the left of the new terminal (as seen from the observation deck), on the other side of the second (grass) runway. Since the parking availability on the main apron is so limited, this is where any non-passenger or long-term visitors are likely to park, as well as being the location of the VIP terminal, although the chances of there actually being anything of this nature here are extremely small! Assuming there is something here, however, you may be able to find a suitable gap between the buildings to get a shot of it. I asked the security guard at the gate here if I could go airside for some better photos, but unfortunately permission for this was denied.

Last visited on 4 November 1995 Top of page


Click on the icons below to see maps relating to Fua'amotu airport. Note that these are all external links to other sites, and will open in a new window.

Area Map
General map of the Nuku'alofa/Fua'amotu area

Courtesy of:
Maps by Travel

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