One of the world’s fastest growing airlines, Emirates Airlines, is set to land at the Faleolo International Airport once a partnership with the government is signed.
The plan is part of the government’s push to have more international airlines to utilise the soon to be completed $40million tala Faleolo International Airport.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi revealed the plan yesterday, saying the idea is to develop the tourism industry to the point where locals benefit from employment opportunities and other flow on benefits.
Tuilaepa said the partnership is one of several agreements the government is looking at with regards to air service.
“Our goal is to give these airlines the license to fly to Samoa,” Tuilaepa said.
“So at the moment the government is looking at this.”
Tuilaepa also said a special Committee is reviewing the future of the joint venture with Virgin Australia, looking at the options of extending the deal or ending it.
Such negotiations are complex matters, he said.
Looking at the future, the Prime Minister said one of the options is to have our own airline that services key global routes.
“The only reason why such an airline will go out of business is when we service routes that we don’t get any benefits from.”
Tuilaepa added that there are ways we can partner with other airlines, to avoid the need to buy a new airplane.
“There is a proposal to partner with Fiji Airways in terms of servicing the route to America,” he said.
He insisted the route to New Zealand and Australia is not a problem since the flights are always full.
But the government is looking at new markets.
“That is why we signed an agreement (Air Service Agreement) with China because we want flights from China to fly here.
“The flight from China to Samoa is four hours less than flights from China going to New Zealand. The flights can also go through to South America before it lands here for transit and continue on to its destination.”
Furthermore, Tuilaepa said that is the government’s plan after it opens the new airport is to promote its facilities to other airlines to use it.
“We are aiming at signing an agreement with other airlines like Emirates if it’s easier for them (to travel through),” he said.
“We are looking for more airlines to transit here especially long flights like from China and going to South America. The biggest benefit for us is people eating here and using our hotels as well as work for our people.”
On Monday this week, the Minister of Works, Infrastructure and Transport, Papali’itele Niko Lee Hang and Ambassador of China to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng signed the Air Service Agreement to allow flights from China to Samoa and vice versa.
The deal opens the door for any carrier interested in servicing the route. The government is also looking at Singapore to add on the list.