Govt. reveals direct China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Los Angeles flights
The first direct flight from China to Samoa is scheduled for July 1 and will put to test the country's tourism market in terms of attracting visitors from the Asian market.
But that is not all with the Government also looking at direct flights from Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles as part of its plans to tap into the tourism market in those destinations.
The plan was revealed by the Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI), Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, in an interview with Sunday Samoan.
According to Papali’i, the Government hopes to pick up its flights in Los Angeles with the route from US being discontinued in the past.
“That is the plan is not only for China, but we are also looking at direct flights from Hong Kong, Singapore,” he said.
“The Government also wants to commission another aircraft so we can start up the Los Angeles flight to Apia with people from Europe transiting in LA then have that direct flight to Apia instead of stopping at Fiji or going to New Zealand.
“But for China we are looking at that to test our market, in terms of tourists whether it will bring a lot of people, and it will also be good for our hoteliers, rental companies in terms of transport and even our small business like handicrafts.”
On the China flights, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi said the first charter flight from China will benefit hoteliers which are running out of business.
He made the comments during his weekly press conference with the media.
“The charter flight will bring Chinese and will help our hoteliers that are running out of business and have no people to stay in their hotel. That is the situation with the hotels but who knows the benefits will finally flow in. (Leiloa poo lena laa amata ai ona feololo mai tagata Saina e omai sei ola ai nai tatou faletalimalo lea ua kaboot ua u I luga kapilipili tau leai ni tagata e omai e nonofo ai. Ole tulaga lena iai lona uiga iai latou o kamupani hotel onosai leiloa poo manuia ia sa lilo lea amata ona tafe mai).”
He added a preparation to host tourists from China is quite simple, "by giving our smiles and keeping the roadside and villages clean".
When speaking on plans to service destinations in the United States and the Asia continent, Papali’i said the Government is positive it will find another aircraft for the route.
This comes as Samoa Airways continues its search for a replacement aircraft after the Government shelved the new Boeing 737 MAX 9 plan.
“The main thing is to find another aircraft, even though it would mean to loan again, but we cannot stop our developments,” he explained.
“If we cannot do that we will not move forward.”
Considering the Government-owned Polynesian Airline ran into financial strife in the past that led to the Los Angeles route being dropped, Papali’i said the Government has learnt its lesson.
“We had the first airline and it failed miserably because the management in terms of debt from people was not well managed.
“There were people who were not fully paid passengers and were IOU, but the new company now, they are really strict on that and that (practice) has been stopped.
“We will not have anymore of that fly now and pay later. You want to go somewhere you pay first and the same goes with the public servants.
“Government has also made a directive that anyone going overseas for Government trips have to fly Samoa Airways. We no longer accept anyone going to Air New Zealand unless it is a personal trip then they have that option.”