Samoa Airways can only get short-term leases
Samoa Airways is only able to get short-term leases on aircraft because aviation companies are not offering long-term leases.
This is according to the Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, in Parliament in response to concerns expressed by the MP for Urban West, Faumuina Leatinu’u Fong.
The MP appealed to the Minister to consider long-term leases rather than short-term, and proposed that the airline get a second aircraft on top of subscribing to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) membership.
He said membership of the IATA comes with various benefits including the passenger convenience of purchasing tickets to their destination instead of Auckland.
“Also the Samoa Airways should apply to be a member of the I.A.T.A. (International Air Transport Association) to make it easier for the airline to tap into other ticketing system to assure; we can purchase tickets all the way to our destination rather than just Samoa to Auckland,” he said.
Faumuina also said that offering more cargo space through the aircraft that it will lease could be a revenue generator for the airline.
Samoa Airways currently has a six-month lease on a Boeing 737 aircraft belonging to Malaysia's Malindo Air-owned Boeing 737.
But the Minister in response said some of the predicaments faced by the Samoa Government, includes trying to stabilize air services as a result of the grounding of the Boeing MAX 8-9 aircrafts worldwide.
“We are trying to secure a long term lease; however there are setbacks and the issues raised are works already in the pipeline, such as the cargo and leasing an aircraft long term.
“The grounding of the MAX family of aircrafts and left us a very difficult positions as there are no aircrafts available for long-term leases, just short-term,” said the Minister.
Member of Parliament, Fonotoe Lauofo Meredith commended Samoa Airways for maintaining an aircraft they are leasing to ensure flights are not disrupted and also the country's progress.
He then urged the Minister to set aside resources to fund the operation of the aircraft and improve its services and commended the C.E.O. and the staff for getting another fleet in such a short time as a result of the MAX 8 and MAX 9 grounding worldwide.
In May this year, Lautafi told the Samoa Observer their plans to secure a lease, potentially a Boeing 737-800 from Air Lease Corporation from the United States.
“Looking at the situation it’s a waiting game. We are looking at those options on continuing the lease with Malindo and the other is a new Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
“It’s a newer one from the company that we were going to hire the MAX 9 from, but an 800 model. Samoa Airways is working on analysis, costs and all those things in relation to those options,” he said.
The lease with Malindo Air follows on the expiry of a Samoa Airways agreement with Italian aviation company NEOS on March 31 this year, with the aviation company declined a request from Samoa Airways to further extend its lease.