18 Dec 2003

Samoa Air blames government for debt negotiation failure

5:17 pm on 18 December 2003

The Chief Executive of Samoa Air, Andre Lavigne, says negotiations with Guam-based Aviation Concepts were stopped because of the American Samoa government's reluctance to negotiate a settlement.

The Guam company had expressed an interest in acquiring Samoa Air and company officials held discussions with Governor Togiola Tulafono to try and resolve the airline's debts with the government.

The government says Samoa Air owes more than 300 thousand US dollars in lease payments.

Mr Lavigne says the airline has sought bankruptcy protection.

"In order to ensure the future of the company, it was felt that to seek Chapter 11 protection as sadly most of the airlines in the United States had done in the past few years, would be better for everyone involved, better for employees, better for the creditors, and would ensure a strengthened company that would come back to service in the near future."

He said there has been no other contact between Samoa Air and the government since.

Mr Lavigne says they are looking to be back in service early next year.