Bad weather in Australia disrupts travel for Samoans

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i 06 January 2019, 12:00AM

Bad weather in Australia has thrown hundreds of passengers’ travel into disarray with flight cancellations leading to individuals and families sleeping at Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith airport.

Pictures circulated on social media showed women and children sleeping on the floor at the Kingsford-Smith airport terminal in Sydney, Australia.

Florence Palamo, who was travelling to Samoa with her family, said they were initially scheduled to depart Sydney 11.30am yesterday for Samoa on a Samoa Airways flight — but their departure was pushed back to 2.00pm, and they had been waiting to travel since Saturday. 

“Wow, Samoa Airways for making your people look like fools at Sydney airport. Moving from A-H three times because we were told that we are checking in for 11.30am flight, then to find out that we are checking in at A (queue) while we were all in H queue.

“We have been here all night and when asked for food vouchers this morning (Sunday) you can’t even give that to us, we were told to keep all receipts for our purchases?

“Why the hell didn’t you bloody tell us this last night? Why make us suffer? Why make us sleep at the airport? We could’ve arranged something for our elderly — if you had told us we weren’t leaving until 2pm,” she said.

Samoa Airways released a media statement yesterday, saying their aircraft could not land at the Kingsford-Smith airport in Sydney on Saturday due to bad weather, and was diverted by Australian aviation authorities to Canberra airport.

“The unforeseen diversion took place while customers with confirmed bookings on the return flight (OL856) from Sydney to Apia were being processed through check-in and departure formalities.

“Whilst flight OL855 was eventually able to operate from Canberra to Sydney last night, it did so after 11:00pm local time meaning that the Sydney Airport curfew would be a factor.

“Despite the airline’s best efforts for special dispensation to operate out of Sydney back to Apia after the curfew, unfortunately this was not possible and as a result, Samoa Airways’ Boeing 737-800 aircraft and crew had to make an unplanned overnight stopover in Sydney.

“As a result, the delay meant that flight OL856 out of Sydney had to be rescheduled along with the airline’s other international flights for the period January 6-11. 

“Flight OL856 was rescheduled to depart Sydney at 2:00pm today 6th January (yesterday), in accordance with the availability of aircraft bays, check-in counters and baggage carousels at Sydney Airport,” the airline said in a statement issued yesterday.

Ms. Palamo said it was heartbreaking seeing elderly people — who were confirmed to travel on Samoa Airways — stranded at the airport.

“My heart melted to see our elderly people stranded at the airport and Samoa airways can’t even provide us with a hotel. We try to support our airline, but they don’t treat us the way we should, especially our elderly — they don’t even have respect for them,” she added.

Samoa Airways, at the end of its media statement, apologised for the inconvenience caused as a result of the disruption.

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i 06 January 2019, 12:00AM

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