Thursday 12 August 2021 Apia Samoa Samoa’s Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa in a post-cabinet press conference on Wednesday says no firm decisions have been made about the future of Samoa Airways, as there are still issues that need to be resolved, and an assessment made of exactly where the national airline is at.
“We had a significant discussion on Samoa Airways,” Fiame told the local media. “This is the second week that Cabinet has received information not only from the Samoa Air Ways company, but also of course from the various government agencies that are active in this undertaking”.
The new Samoa Airways aircraft is currently in Brisbane Australia undertaking technical checks and validation requirements for registration.
“We are not quite sure at this point how soon those tests and processes will take place, meanwhile our Cabinet is taking the opportunity to once again reach a clear understanding of the progress of the Samoa Airways Project from its inception to where it is now..”
The Prime Minister stressed the need to assess what the future implications were for government liabilities, and understand government’s responsibilities in terms of its commitments to funding arrangements entered into.
The Samoa Airways Airline was initially founded in 1959 as “Polynesian Airlines” providing international flights throughout the South Pacific.
The operations for Samoa Airways were temporarily halted in 2005 and taken over by a joint venture airline (later Virgin Samoa) before resuming international flights under the name of “Samoa Airways” in late 2017.
Samoa Airways is wholly owned by the government of Samoa, and before border shutdowns was operating daily short-haul flights between Samoa and American Samoa and long-haul flights to Australia and New Zealand.
When the global pandemic Covid-19 border lockdowns hit in March 2021, Chief Executive Officer Tupuivao Seiuli Alvin Tuala had to review and streamline operations.
“Close to 90% of our staff are on leave without pay and the few that are working have been placed on 50% salary reduction since March this year,” Tupuivao had said at the time.
Over the past year and half the airline continued with minimal staff to ensure operations such as the service to American Samoa. Over the past 18 months on a rotational basis, two pilots and two engineers from Apia have been posted in Pago Pago American Samoa to undertake an important daily air service from Tutuila to Manu’a during the covid-19 lockdown period.