Samoa Airways Chief opens up

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 30 March 2018, 12:00AM

Samoa Airways is looking at other aircrafts pending the end of their current wet lease.

Not only that, the national airline also expects to have a full Samoan flight crew by 2019.

These are some of the plans revealed by Samoa Airways Chief Executive Officer, Seiuli Alvin Tuala, during an interview with the Samoa Observer.

Graduating from a wet lease to a dry lease will see a drop in expenditure for Samoa Airways by not having to rely on cabin and pilot crews from other airlines to operate the aircraft.

Tuala said phase one of flight crew training is almost complete.

Now they are turning their attention to finding an aircraft to suit the next level of operation for Samoa Airways. 

“Everything is going to plan and the aircraft works fine,” he said. “We’ve had no issues but leases don’t last that long, they have to move on and do other things and we have to get a replacement."

“Training cabin crew and pilots is not easy and not cheap so we went with the wet lease to start the operations and slowly we’re moving into the dry lease."

“At this time, we are on a damp lease where the cabin crew is all Samoan but the technical crew is still foreigners.”

“The Italian crew has been great, they are so helpful. They have been the most helpful people I’ve come across in terms of assisting us with everything. 

“They have worked very closely with our team here in Samoa, but as we move to dry lease, our pilots are training so that we start to slot them in and we are about to hire pilots from overseas.”  

Asked whether they are seeing an increase in flight numbers and how does a startup airline deal with low flying numbers, the C.E.O responded: “When loadings are low, you combine so that you’re not wasting your money operating a flight. 

“Recently, we moved people from the Wednesday flight to the Tuesday and Thursday and made good use of the time to do some maintenance work on the aircraft. 

“That’s normal in any commercial airline. There are airlines that are much bigger that cancel flights at the drop of a hat. It’s not worth flying with low numbers instead we moved them and transferred them to another flight and did whatever we needed to do to accommodate them.”

The C.E.O. pointed out that quite simply the Samoa Airways is relying on the support of its people not merely to survive, but to thrive among other international carriers. 

“Our people need to come and support the airline because without their support, the airlines are not going anywhere,” Seiuli said.

“With their support, we can achieve a lot of different things. We can ensure that airfares remain affordable because they weren’t affordable six months ago, they were really expensive.

 “We’ve been operating since November 2017 and flight numbers are starting to increase, but we would like to see more of our people travelling with us.

“We’ve got a good product, we have a full on board service and of course the airline will look at other ways to improve.”

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 30 March 2018, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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