Iceland Air officials were among those gathered at Faleolo International airport tarmac awaiting the arrival of Samoa Airways on Saturday.
After two years of negotiations with Samoa Airways over aircraft leasing, the event was as significant to Iceland Air as it was to Samoa and her people.
For Managing Director and President of Iceland Air, Gudnie Hreinsson, Manager Production, Berlind Guomundsdottir and sales and marketing representative, Halldor Paddi Halldorsson, the moment of the aircraft’s arrival was one of immense satisfaction and pride after a long process of establishing the groundwork in cooperation and production.
Mr. Halldorsson spoke to the Samoa Observer about the beginning of the business relationship between the two countries.
“I started meeting with Alvin two years ago and we were discussing opportunities and possibilities of leasing an aircraft and taking it on,” he said.
“Of course it’s a big step for Samoa and it became clear to me after my first visit, that the opportunities were definitely here. So that meant that a couple of months later, I came back and then ended up building a strategic plan and today is the big day, finally. Two years later, we are here to day.”
Mr. Hreinsson also expressed similar sentiments, saying he was excited and proud that two years of negotiations finally came to fruition.
“It’s a Boeing 77800 and it’s one of the most popular and most common aircrafts in the world,” he said.
“It’s been a very successful and reliable aircraft and I think it’s a great fit for the routing that Samoa Airways is going to operate to Auckland and to Sydney as well. It’s freshly painted, straight out of a scheduled maintenance on the aircraft which you do every now and then. It’s coming straight out of there and as we would put it, it’s as good as new.”
Once negotiations had concluded and the ink had dried on the contracts, Ms. Guomundsdottir stepped in to take over and according the President of Iceland, Ms. Guomundsdottir does all the “real work”.
“I am in production, I basically take over when they sign the contract,” she said.
“I came here in August and I’ve been here now for two weeks. I’ve been monitoring the training and following up on the things that are going to be ready now. The training is based on the Italian A.O.C. because the aircraft is still registered there.
“I train the cabin crew; you have a full Samoan cabin crew. The first few flights you will have some Italians as well just to do the training flights and then you will have a full Samoan cabin crew.”
The Iceland Air officials spoke about how much they enjoyed their time in Samoa in between business dealings and that they planned to discover more about our island once Samoa Airways starts flying and gets into a routine.
“I love it here, it’s absolutely amazing it’s such a beautiful country and the people are so nice and friendly,” said Ms Guomundsdottir.
“Last time I went around half of the island, hopefully this time I will go around the other half of the island and hopefully I will see the other island as well. But I am sure I will be coming back so if I don’t get it this time, I will do so next time.”
Mr. Halldorsson praised Samoa Airways for their hard work in the lead up to the aircraft’s arrival and is confident that they are more than ready to successfully operate the aircraft and service the people of Samoa.
“They have done a terrific job and of course everyone is very enthusiastic for the aircraft to come,” he said.
“Everyone has been working back to back and doing the absolute best and more than that actually and so I know they are more than prepared for the arrival of the first aircraft and I say the first aircraft because it’s the first of many to come I’m sure.”