Polynesian Airlines is negotiating with Fiji Airways as the government proceeds with its plan to revive Polynesian’s international operations.
This was confirmed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi in an interview with the Sunday Samoan.
Earlier this month, the government informed the Virgin Australia Group that it has decided not to re-new the Joint Venture (JV).
The government’s decision doesn’t surprise members of the industry.
It is public knowledge that Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s government has been unhappy with Virgin Samoa’s performance for some time now.
Concerns have been raised since Virgin Australia went into partnership with Air New Zealand.
Both Airlines have repeatedly downplayed the concerns.
Responding to questions about Polynesian Airline’s next move, Tuilaepa said they are considering a partnership with Fiji Airways.
“For every airline, they have partnerships with other airlines," he said. "It's important to consider the routes that is not covered by our flights, yet are being covered by Fiji Airways."
He said nothing has been finalised.
“The negotiations is ongoing for the next five to six months for the changes to follow through.”
Tuilaepa did not go into details.
According to an official from Polynesian Airlines, who does not wish to be named, the wet lease price from Fiji Airways is between "$100,000-$200,000 to lease one airplane a month".
The official said this amount is nothing compared to what was paid to Virgin Australia ever year.
According to the 2016 Scoping and Feasibility Study for International Jets Services, in 2005 Polynesian Airline lost its flag carrier status once the JV entered into force and that has reduced it to operating a small turbo prop service to outlying islands such as American Samoa.
“It has lost some of its specialists skills in it workforce for jet operations and if it is to be reborn it will take some time to up-skill its workers and to recruit new staff,” the study reads.
The study further notes that as long as the JV is in place, Polynesian cannot operate into Samoa’s major inbound markets such as Australia and New Zealand mainly because it would not be able to complete with Virgin Australia's access to the Virgin distribution channels and economics of scale.