Time is right to leave, says outgoing Samoa Airways Chairman Fe’esago
The outgoing Chairman of Samoa Airways, Fe’esago George Fepulea’i, is adamant the time is right for him to step down.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, the 82-year-old Fe’esago said he has spent the past 65 years serving the Government of Samoa in many different roles – including his latest role as the Chairman of Samoa Airways - and it’s time to leave.
“I have been privileged to serve the government and our people for 65 years and I feel it is time for me to leave,” he said.
“Now is the time as you are aware our (Max) aircraft is grounded together with other airline (aircraft) at Boeing airfield.
“At the moment there is no specific time of when we will receive the official outcome of the investigation into (Boeing Max aircraft) it could take three to six months for the investigation.
“I feel it is time for someone else to continue on (the role) and it is also fitting, I am old and it is the right time.”
Board member, Tuia Paepae Letoa has been appointed Interim Chairman.
For Fe’esago, he recalled the many challenges the airline has had to go through and continues to encounter.
In recent years when government decided to abandon the joint venture with Virgin Blue, Samoa Airways was faced with the difficult task of finding an aircraft.
“We were given six months to come up with an aircraft when it pulled out from the joint venture,” said the Outgoing Chairman.
“A lot of people did not believe that we can find an aircraft and even after we had an aircraft there were concerns of the safety of the aircraft but we did our best.
“But if you look at the number of visitors and tourists coming in the country it had risen in the past years and it is because the airline had dropped its airfare offering a competition to our competitor.
“So looking at that I feel that if I had contributed in a way in the development (of Samoa Airways and the country) then it is time to move on while it continues its work and move forward.”
According to Fe’esago, with the Boeing 737 Max 9 being grounded together with other aircraft across the world following the Ethiopian airline crash, Samoa Airways has a lot of planning to do.
Samoa Airways had expected to bring in a Boeing 737 from Fiji as its second flight around August but such plans fell through.
“They need to make big plans and the government had invested a lot in the Max aircraft,” he said.
“We were depending on the Fiji 737 for August but since all Max is grounded they have decided otherwise and that is the nature of business and no one expected what had happened.”
Concerns about the financial stability of the airline, Fe’esago in any business it will always go through challenges.
“You forecast for about 3 to 4 years but there are always challenges faced by the company,” he said.
“But I believe that if you have faith in something it will come through…you have to budget for losses.”
Lastly, Fe’esago says he leaves Samoa Airways feeling thankful that he had the privileged to serve the nation through his various roles including being Chairman of the national carrier.
“It was a wonderful experience and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the government and our people.”