5 Nov 2008

Samoa's deputy prime minister says dropping air route would raise costs

11:07 am on 5 November 2008

A decision by the Cook Islands to stop subsidising a direct flight to Los Angeles may be behind Air New Zealand's demand for a subsidy from Samoa and Tonga to continue the weekly Nukalofa, Apia, Los Angeles flights.

Samoa deputy prime minister Misa Telefoni says the discontinuation of the Cook Island flight could significantly increase the cost of Nukalofa, Apia LA service.

"We believe that this has been brought on basically by the decision to cancel the Cook Islands. We don't know how much money, if any was paid over by the Cook Islands but we were advised the Cook Islands won't pay any more so Air New Zealand have given a definite date to terminate that flight. And I think one of their problems is they'll have to drop off a seven six seven crew possibly for an entire week which makes it very, very expensive if they only have this one flight."

Mr Telefoni says negotiations are set to get underway with Air New Zealand in coming weeks.

He says Samoa is also having talks with Air Pacific, Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin about the possibility of adding an Apia link to their North American services.