Negotiations have commenced between the Samoan government-owned airline, Samoa Airways, and Fiji Airways on the possibility of establishing a codeshare agreement. The Minister of Public Enterprises and Samoa Airways, Leatinu’u Wayne So’oialo, revealed this development during an interview recently. The discussions are primarily centred on the number of seats Fiji Airways can allocate to Samoa Airways for operating flights to New Zealand and various other international destinations.
Minister Leatinu’u also confirmed that the Cabinet has yet to make a decision on a proposal from another international airline seeking a codeshare agreement with Samoa Airways. At this stage, the government is meticulously evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of entering into partnerships with international carriers. They aim to avoid repeating past mistakes of former administrations.
A codeshare flight agreement enables airlines to sell seats on each other’s flights, expanding their destination networks and sharing revenue. It’s a strategic move to enhance service offerings and global reach.
In response to questions about acquiring a new aircraft for Samoa Airways, Minister Leatinu’u stressed that purchasing a new aircraft is currently not a priority, as they are focused on paying off the airline’s debt and upgrading equipment at Faleolo International Airport. He said the need to address issues such as the damaged container loader at the airport, asserting that repairing the existing problems is more cost-effective than acquiring a new aircraft. He confirmed that new container loaders from Spain are expected to arrive by the end of January 2024, replacing the damaged ones.
Currently, Faleolo Airport has three container loaders in subpar condition, which has led to the use of manual loading using belt loaders, causing inconveniences and additional costs for the airline. The airline’s interim CEO, Fauo’o Fatu Tielu, clarified that the belt loaders were a temporary solution to mitigate the impact of the faulty container loader on passenger travel.
Fauo’o also stated that the airline was not facing cash flow problems and was awaiting new equipment worth over SAT$1 million (US$357,000) from Spain to improve their services. However, the supplier of the refurbished container loading equipment experienced a four-month delay due to the relocation of its spare parts supplier to the U.S.
The decision to resort to manual loading came after Samoa Airways faced ongoing issues with the airport’s container loader, which led to a New Zealand-bound flight leaving behind a significant portion of cargo. Passengers on the flight expressed disappointment, as they couldn’t transport items like boxes of umu intended for relatives in New Zealand.
Additionally, issues with ground service equipment recently led to Air New Zealand canceling two wide body aircraft flights, inconveniencing hundreds of travellers. These incidents underscore the urgency of resolving equipment and infrastructure challenges at Faleolo International Airport before considering major investments in new aircraft for Samoa Airways.