Polynesian Airlines will soon change to Samoa Airways according to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi.
The national airline will also enter into a mutual arrangement with Fiji’s international carrier, Fiji Airways.
The arrangement will be formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding yet to be signed between the two parties as it remain subject to Cabinet approval, the Prime Minister revealed in his weekly television program, Taimi male Palemia, a production by Samoa Quality Broadcasting Limited or TV1.
The Prime Minister added that the arrangement with Fiji Airways however is competed different from the joint venture with Virgin Australia as they will be no shareholding and code sharing in terms of airline tickets and routes.
For instance, Samoa Airways is expected to make its money by selling seats on flights from and to Samoa.
Samoa Airways will also sell tickets on Fiji Airway’s routes. In reality, the more tickets sold the bigger the profits.
Details of the proposed arrangements are expected to be revealed when the MOU is signed.
But the Prime Minister indicated that Samoa Airways will have its own aircraft to start commercial flights between Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.
Because of the confidentially clause in M.O.U between the two parties, the Prime Minister is not at liberty to divulge further details.
But he indicated that the MOU which has been under the microscope for some time now will represent the best interest of the national carrier Samoa Airways.
The international press however has reported that Fiji’s partnership with the Samoan government would also include a joint venture covering any additional flights that Fiji Airways operates from Samoa, reported Blue Swan Daily.
“Under this arrangement, Fiji Airways could soon be operating up to three weekly return flights from Apia to Honolulu.
“Two additional flights will also come under the new deal.
“Along with this, Fiji Airways is also planning to upgrade three of the Nadi-Apia frequencies from the ATR 72-600 turboprops to Boeing 737-800 jets,” continued the Blue Swan Daily.
And Fiji Airways’ is receptive to the joint venture, according to Fiji Sun.
“This is about a deal which would both help Samoa reestablish its own national flag carrier, and provide work for Fiji Airways, including increased aircraft utilization,” Shaenaz Voss, Fiji
Airways Executive General Manager Corporate Affairs is quoted by the Fiji Sun as she confirmed an agreement in principal.
But she said they were unable to release further details yet.
“We have an agreement in principal with the Samoan Government to assist them with support for their new national airline,” she said.
“The exact nature of this support is still subject to negotiation.”
Fiji Airways currently operates nine weekly flights to the Samoa.
These include seven from Nadi, one from Suva and one weekly flight from Honolulu, Blue Swan reported.
Tuilaepa says in the long run, Polynesian Airlines will acquire her own aircraft indicating that one option is for a lease purchase agreement with Fiji Airways, according to a release from the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The arrangement comes after the announcement of the coming dissolution of Virgin Samoa.
Virgin Samoa, formerly Polynesian Blue, is the current flag carrier of Samoa.
It is owned by Virgin Australia, the Samoan Government and Samoa’s Grey Investment hotel group and operated and managed by Virgin Australia.
Virgin Samoa has served as the national carrier for Samoa since 2005, when a joint venture was forged between Virgin Australia and the Samoan Government.
The government announced in May 2017 the termination of the joint venture by November 2017.
The Samoan Government had expressed disappointment with the level of service Samoa has been getting.
The joint venture with Virgin was set up after Samoa’s then government-owned flag carrier, Polynesian Airlines, expanded its international services and ran into major financial problems.
Polynesian now focuses on operating small turboprop flights between and within the two Samoas.
Photo by MPMC