The Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, says Polynesian Airlines must have a very solid business case for the government to revive its international operations.
He also believes that learning from the lessons of the past is a must for the government.
He made the comment when his opinion was sought over the government’s plan to revive Polynesian Airlines as a fully-fledged international airline.
“As you know we’ve been through that path before,” Minister Sili told the Samoa Observer during a recent interview.
“It was quite costly and we are just paying off some of the debts.
“Learning from the lessons of what happened in the past, looking around at what’s happening, I think it’s up to Polynesian Airlines to come in with credible a strong business case.”
Sili said the government is working on some options.
“Currently we are also trying to make sure that we leverage other people resources, more flights by Fiji Airways, more flights by Air New Zealand, more flights from Australia and we are looking at that.
“We appreciate that there is Fiji Airways flight that comes to us from Honolulu, maybe there’s an opportunity for an additional flight or we invite Hawaiian Airlines to fly directly instead of us going to Pago.”
He believes a ‘better cheaper alternative’ can be found.
“I think the business case has to be very strong and I’m sure they are already doing that.”
“I’d like to see their numbers and the discussion and negotiations with other airlines for the sake of our tourism.”
As of now, the Minister said Polynesian Airlines is performing very well.
“They have a fairly strong performance with operations to American Samoa.”
Does he support the government’s decision for Polynesian Airlines’ international flights?
“I’d like to look at the business case. We need to have a look at the discussions with Virgin and other airlines. I know Polynesian is also talking to Fiji Airways.
“If we can get more flights in and with Polynesians sort of co-sharing with those airlines that’s going to be beneficial for Polynesian but also for the wider economy.
“But I suspect the board and management of Polynesian Airlines are working really hard to come up with a business case.
“For me, I’ll be willing to look at it.
“We all need to make sure that we know where things will be in five years time. We do have opportunities to maybe also increase the capacity of Polynesian to regional routes.”