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Samoa eyes options and plans to fly internationally

May 31, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Fiji Airways and Polynesian Airlines are reportedly discussing a plan by Samoa to revive Polynesian’s international operations.The report, carried in the Samoa Observer, follows speculation that Virgin Australia may serve Samoa under its own brand – given that its joint venture with the Samoan government, formerly known as Polynesian Blue, ends later this year.

Polynesian Blue is due to end services on 12 November 2017 after more than 10 years of operation.

The talks with Fiji Airways were confirmed at the weekend by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, speaking to the Sunday Samoan.

The paper said it was public knowledge that Tuilaepa’s government had been unhappy with Virgin Samoa’s performance for some time.  Concerns have been raised since Virgin Australia went into partnership with Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand, formerly a Virgin Australia shareholder, is the only other major airline serving Samoa and allegations have arisen that competition is not what it should be.

Samoan MP Olo Fiti Vaai was more blunt, accusing Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand of colluding to boost profits.

“We pay NZD 1000+ one way and yet when you go to Auckland, its NZD 150-200 to fly to Australia,” he told the Samoa Observer newspaper.

“They are making money off of the Samoan people, yet they charge us an arm and a leg.”

The Samoan government and Virgin Australia each own 49% of Virgin Samoa, which flies between Samoa’s capital, Apia, and Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane.

Virgin said in a statement earlier this month it was working the Samoan Government to confirm timing for the end of Virgin Samoa service

It was also “reviewing options for operations to and from Samoa after the Virgin Samoa services conclude”.

“We will provide an update on operations and timing in due course and any affected guests will be proactively contacted to discuss their travel options,’’ it said.

Written by Peter Needham

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