Ministry of Police takes over the Fagalii International Airport
The Ministry of Police has taken over the de-commissioned Fagali’i Airport, following a hand-over ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi, speaking during a brief ceremony, said the Fagali’i Airport will be closed for good and there will be no more airports in the town area.
“As you know that Fagali’i Airport was reopened in 2009, five years after it was closed in 2004 due to safety reasons and the bad weather at the time. And due to the fact that it will be difficult to maintain this airport, Cabinet opted to approve the closing down of Fagali’i.
“Given the road to Faleolo Airport is in great condition and the new airport, funded by the China Government and other aspects of the Airport, that have been upgraded thanks to the World Bank.”
The Prime Minister thanked the Samoa Airways for the 10 years it had custody of the aerodrome.
Last week, the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, said that as of 1 January, 2020 all flights will operate out of Faleolo International Airport due to safety reasons.
"The Fagali’i Airport has failed to meet international standards and for safety reasons, it must be closed down and handed over to the Ministry of Police," he said.
He said the Faleolo International Airport has been certified and meets international aviation requirements.
The increasing incidences of drug smuggling in Samoa has made Fagalii vulnerable and is now a gateway for illicit material, according to the Minister.
“We don’t have canines sniffing around Fagalii all the time, they’re there when they can but not all the time, unlike Faleolo the Canines are there all the time. The smuggling of drugs via borders through the airport will be minimized,” he said.
While members of the travelling public have complained about the distance to Faleolo for American Samoa travellers, Papali’i said the distance is not an issue and aviation safety is paramount.
“I’d rather drive all the way to Faleolo and have a safe trip to American Samoa, than Fagali’i where it is unsafe and the landing strip is deteriorating,” he reminded.
The disused airport will be turned into a vehicle test driving range and registration inspection site as part of the Samoa Government's broader efforts to address the rising road toll.
Last week Prime Minister Tuilaepa said increasing deaths on Samoa's roads is the rationale behind the Government's decision to shut the airport and move air services to Faleolo.
He said he had concerns about the growing road toll and incidences of drunk and reckless driving.
Commercial drivers can could use the facility to undergo driving tests once the site is converted and opened.