The issue of Air Services to and from Samoa is one which affects every Samoan household and every Samoan whether in Samoa or whether in some foreign land.
For the past decades we have been literally at the mercy of the major carriers such as Air New Zealand and Virgin Airlines and what is now Fiji Airways.
This was a fact of life when Samoa Air was formed in 2012 and its no less a fact today as then. Whether it was Samoa Air or Polynesian Airlines or another Samoan carrier the most important thing was always that such an International Airline had to be Samoan. Patriotism is a strong factor when planners do their sums.
The driving economic force for an Airline operating into Samoa is the fact that the majority of passengers are by far Samoan in origin. This is a unique feature of our country and one not missed by anyone doing a study on how to make money from operating an Airline into Samoa. They cry all the way to the bank as the saying goes but its Samoan earned money in their coffers.
The Prime Minister is absolutely right to take steps to protect Samoa Airways against what will be aggressive and prolonged predatory practice by our competitors.
If Samoa Air had been able to develop into the National Carrier we would have asked and expected no less. It’s a very tough arena out there and each country should protect its National interests. Air Service Agreements are particularly complex and very much buyer beware. Every country has its rights and they need to be protected.
Samoa is in the right geographic place in terms of traffic between USA and the antipodes and these operators know that and they want to protect against a Samoa based aircraft competing using its positional advantage.
A home grown Airline can earn revenue of around 30 to 40 Million Dollars per aircraft in foreign exchange. Nominal profit is commonly of the order of 2% of revenue which equates to $700,000 clear per year and that figure stands well for very low projected load factors. So Samoa Airways can then deal back the excess or unsold weight in carriage to our local vendors at greatly reduced rate.
As it stands aiffare to Samoa is usually more expensive than a fare to Los Angeles when flying from Auckland or anywhere in Australia. Similarly to almost anywhere in Asia it is half the price of a fare to Samoa plus a week in a hotel.
A National Carrier can provide preferential rates to Samoan exporters.
It can package deals with local Hotels and Resorts and it would foster a domestic Air Service such as the Samoa Air Taxy to Savaii and eventually to East Upolu and this leads to more and better opportunities to bring in more foreign exchange where at least some of it stays here in Samoa.
It has the particular advantage of being able to promote Samoa in a way where other carriers would simply not be interested. Code sharing rarely provides for the lesser partner.
When you fly on your own Airline the feeling should be different. It’s after all your Airline and we should be very proud.
Times change and the past is the past and too much time has been wasted due to our being servants to other operators in a way where it was always going to be hard to break away. This is a great step forward and we should all do our best to ensure that it succeeds. With best wishes to all involved.