SUNBIZ

Samoan PM Tuilaepa Tells Of The Fiji Airways And Samoa Airways Issue

Tuilaepa told the Samoan Government newspaper Savali: “The decision by Cabinet is to promote proactive talks between the two airlines to revive discussions on their code-sharing agreement, executed many years ago, but had not been implemented.
27 Feb 2020 14:28
Samoan PM Tuilaepa Tells Of The Fiji Airways And Samoa Airways Issue
Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says they are trying to get Fiji Airways’ attention. This, he explained, is their reason for the current issues over Samoa-Fiji air services.

Tuilaepa

Tuilaepa told the Samoan Government newspaper Savali:  “The decision by Cabinet is to promote proactive talks between the two airlines to revive discussions on their code-sharing agreement, executed many years ago, but had not been implemented.

“In essence, Cabinet’s intervention is to ensure that the discussions resume between the management of Fiji Airways and Samoa Airways, especially when we are facing daunting challenges with reduced travels as a result of the Coronavirus, restricting travel opportunities between Samoa and the outside world.

“Fiji is one of the gateways into Samoa.

“We also have to remember that we had bad experiences in similar arrangements with ANSETT and Virgin Airlines years ago, so we want to make sure that these incidents of the past will not be repeated.

“Cabinet’s priority is to bring the two airlines back to the negotiating table to resume productive brainstorming sessions between them.

“We are only a one work-horse airline, Fiji has many.

“So it is quite possible that Fiji is not treating our Airline on an equal basis.

“And we want to ensure that if the agreement does not work, then we move ahead and reschedule our routes.”

Background

The Samoa Observer first reported that the Samoan Cabinet met on Wednesday February 12, 2020, where it discussed and endorsed the policies for flights to Fiji as follows.

A translation of the document reads:

“i: The closing of the Apia-Nadi and Nadi-Apia route.

“ii: All travel intended for Fiji will be routed to Auckland using Samoa Airways and return via Auckland on the way back to Samoa.

“iii: For travel from Hawaii, they will come through Pagopago and then to Apia.”

No explanation

The document did not detail reasons behind  the Samoan Government’s decision to close the Apia-Nadi route.

But it reveals the Minister of Samoa Airways was tasked by Samoan Cabinet to discuss the new arrangements.

PM Tuilaepa and Minister of Samoa Airways Lautafi Fio Purcell were in Fiji last week attending the Pacific Island Leaders’ Summit during the visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Fiji Airways responds

In a statement on Sunday, a Fiji Airways spokesperson said: “Discussions have taken place between Samoa Airways and Fiji Airways executives on partnership and codeshare arrangements.

“However, the matter of flights between Fiji and Samoa concerns the existing Air Services Agreement between the two countries.

“As such, Fiji Airways has referred the matter to the Fijian Government for their attention.”

The Fiji Sun is awaiting comment from the Attorney-General and Minister responsible for Aviation, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum,  who is in London chairing a Commonweatlth Telecommunications Organisation meeting.

The Samoa Observer reported that the Samoan Ministry of Finance chief executive officer, Leasiosiofa’asisina Oscar Malielegaoi, said that a delegation has been meeting with their counterparts at Fiji Airways about the matter.

Samoa Airways

Government-owned Samoa Airways was formed after the Samoan Government ended a joint-venture with Virgin Australia.

Samoa Airways uses a Boeing 737-800 jet to operate flights from Samoa to New Zealand and Australia.

It uses Twin Otter turboprops to operate services to American Samoa.

Fiji Airways

Majority Fijian Government-owned Fiji Airways operates Fiji-Samoa and Samoa-Honolulu (USA)  services on which it codeshares with Samoa Airways.

It operates a wide range of international regional and domestic services.
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