The Samoa Airways has requested the Samoa Airport Authority (S.A.A.) to waive its landing fees for 2018.
This was confirmed by S.A.A. Chief Executive Officer, Magele Hoe Viali, during a phone interview with the Samoa Observer.
Initially, Magele said he could not comment, but afterwards confirmed that Samoa Airways has applied to waive their landing fees.
“There is a thing called Air Service Incentive programme that is being utilised by the Atlanta Airport in America."
“It's a practice that is being utilised all over the world and the request has been considered by the Airport."
“And as the P.M said, this would have to go through proper channels for approval from Cabinet as the Prime Minister indicated to you,” said Magele.
Asked whether the airport gave the same incentive for Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia, Magele said no.
“This is how it works. We only offer incentives to new carriers or the airlines taking new routes."
“If there are current routes, why would there be any incentives given to those airlines."
“Again the incentives are only given to an airline that has developed new routes and or developed a new airline."
“Also if it is considered for the Samoa Airways, it has to be applied to all the new carriers."
“Unless it is approved by Cabinet, we cannot utilise such incentive, given that we are operated on public funds, so of course it has to be approved from the top,” said Magele.
According to the C.E.O., the same incentive was given for the Samoa Air and Talofa Airways.
“Also this incentive has to be paralleled with other new carriers and I’m sure that is how Cabinet will look at it.”
Asked as to how much money the airport will lose if the landing fees are waived for Samoa Airways, Magele was unaware.
“As of now, we are working on a feasibility study which will include all of that."
“Also be mindful that in every situation like this, it is a win-win situation, meaning that we help them and in return we will get some money from it."
“This is exactly why we have not submitted the request to Cabinet is because we are considering all options before the actual request is submitted,” said Magele.
Last week, Tuilaepa said:
“I don’t believe that a decision has been made on that specific issue, but there has been a request,” Tuilaepa said.
“At the same time, it is not easy for the authority to make such a difficult decision. It is a decision that has to be looked into by Cabinet, but that has not reached Cabinet.”
Tuilaepa said the Government has to be careful and weigh up its options.
“If the request is granted, other airlines will object, so the decision comes from Cabinet and not the authority on such matters.”