15 Nov 2017

Samoa Airways a response to failed joint venture

1:52 pm on 15 November 2017

Samoa's Prime Minister says the country decided to re-introduce its own carrier because the joint venture with Virgin Airlines failed to meet its objectives.

Launch of Samoa Airways

Launch of Samoa Airways Photo: RNZI Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi landed in Auckland yesterday morning on the airline's inaugural flight from Apia.

He said demand was reduced in some travel markets after the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, making it difficult for Polynesian Airlines to make a profit.

He said they went with Virgin Airlines because it was a low cost carrier at the time, but this only helped them cut costs for the first two to three years.

After that, fares rose substantially while demand for flights to Samoa declined.

"The explanation was that there were not many tourists to our country, but suddenly when we announced that we were going to fly our own plane again, suddenly the Virgin decided to increase its flights because they suddenly discover that there were many people trying to get to Samoa, but we know that this is a trick."

Tuilaepa said only two destinations had granted landing rights to Samoa Airways.

Sydney was the other destination where Samoa Airways has landing rights.

He said that the carrier will not be looking into long-haul flights any time soon.

"At the present time, we are confining ourselves to these two destinations. See you have to watch your profitability very carefully."

Tuilaepa said he was unsure of the reason why boarding passes were handwritten on the inaugural flight and that it is a matter for the airline to address.

Samoa's PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Samoa's PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi Photo: RNZ / Sela Jane Aholelei

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