The condemnation of the government’s decision to reject an application from Virgin Australia to continue to service the Faleolo/Auckland route has come thick and fast from irate travellers.
Many of them have taken to social media to vent their anger, describing the decision as “stupid,” “arrogant” and “egotistical”.
Others have branded Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his administration “idiots”.
They argue that this is the government’s way of getting rid of competition so that Samoa’s new airline, Samoa Airways, can gain a foothold in the market and eventually be allowed to control fares and monopolise the route.
This, they say, will only make things tougher for Samoans.
Asked for a comment yesterday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa was unrepentant. He blasted the Airline calling them “liars” for selling tickets knowing fully well they did not have a license to operate to Samoa beyond 5 December 2017 (see story page 2).
Still, angry passengers are not convinced.
“Why discontinue a service that provides competition and people have paid tickets to visit Samoa?” writes Ioana Tusa on the Samoa Observer’s Facebook page.
“I can see what this government is doing! Getting rid of competition (so they can price fix) however, the Samoan Airlines have to land on foreign soil as well and will pay!”
Mr. Tusa said the government should allow Virgin Australia to continue to service the route between Auckland and Samoa.
“Closing routes off to big Airlines will come back and haunt Samoa eventually! I can see fares becoming too expensive to fly to Samoa and again the majority of Samoans who depend on visitors will suffer, due to an imbecile egotistical P.M's short sightedness for resident Samoans.”
Mr. Tusa added the government should have at least considered the six thousands passengers whose travel plans have now been disrupted when their decision was made.
Rosa Te’o Williams is one of them.
“Thanks a lot Samoa Government,” she wrote.
“Because of you, our booking of 15 people we paid 10 months prior to leave in a month’s time was cancelled.
“Their only option was to give our refund back only to pay $200 more per person from what we paid on Virgin Airlines with Air NZ because most of the flights on Samoa airways are sold out.
“Good job Samoa and we'll definitely not be flying with your new Airlines!”
Another unhappy member of the public, Kat Pati’s sister had already booked for a 14th November return flight.
“They should see these flights out then discontinue their service.”
Rose Luisa Love agrees.
“I don't understand why they would stop Virgin flying to Samoa,” she writes.
“So the question is how many Samoan airlines is there cause if it's only one, well then good luck with that, Samoa will be in a disaster.
“The Samoa government is not thinking right … stop being big headed and let Virgin help the Samoan people travel!”
Lila Nauer said the decision would hurt Samoans.
“At the end of the day the Samoan people and the tourists/tourism industry are going to be the ones who lose,” Lila said.
“More planes mean more accessibility to Samoa, more bodies coming into the country etc ... it seems people have lost focus and need to get back on track...and stick to the programme!”
A person who uses the name “Phee A Bots” said the saddest part is that many of the people are probably from Samoa.
“Six thousand people are probably Samoan people who have already paid their fares. Maybe reconsider the 6000 then cut Virgin off.”
Taotafa Matafeo Jr. offers a different perspective.
“They had their chance,” Taotafa said referring to Virgin Australia.
“Plus flying with Air NZ back home has always been the preferred choice for some. There are other carriers keen on filling this void.”
The decision by the government was revealed in a message from Virgin Australia to passengers affected.
Sent on Monday, the message reads: “Virgin Australia wishes to advise you that the Samoan Government has denied authorisation of our scheduled services between Apia and Auckland.
“We are disappointed by this decision and are working in conjunction with the Australian Government to explore options to encourage the Samoan Government to reconsider its decision.
“Unfortunately, this means your upcoming flight with Virgin Australia will be affected and we are genuinely sorry that this outcome has resulted in a disruption to your travel plans.
“We would again like to apologise for the disruption to your travel plans however the situation is unfortunately out of our control.”