Samoa Airways' dividends behind by $10 million

Samoa Airways is behind on its Government dividend payments to the tune of more than $10 million, a review of the finances of the nation’s state-owned companies has found. 

The national airline's outstanding bill is contained within the Ministry of Public Eneterprise’s (M.P.E.) annual report for the last financial year. 

The report found that the M.P.E. lifted its forecast dividend collections for the 2018-2019 Financial Year by $20.7 million to account for outstanding payments. 

“[Fifty two per cent] of that amount belongs to [Samoa Airways’ operating company Polynesian Airlines Limited] who has yet to provide business cases for the revised jet operations to further assess and review outstanding dividend as well as [the] impact on [the] company’s solvency,” the report reads. 

On those numbers, Samoa Airways' outstanding dividends equate to $10.75 million. 

The M.P.E. is reviewing outstanding dividends from the Gambling Control Authority and the Land Transport Authority with a view to the potential impact on the companies’ solvency, the M.P.E. said. 

Earlier this month it was revealed that the national carrier was ranked the nation’s least-profitable public enterprise and operated at a loss of $21 million last Financial year.

The financial troubles came amidst ongoing problems with the airline’s aircraft leasing arrangements, which were thrown into disarray by the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max fleet.

It also came despite the airline's revenues rising substantially to reach $93 million from $48 million, the M.P.E. report said. 

The airline's expenses amounted to $114 million. 

The M.P.E. is responsible for ensuring the accountability of publicly-owned corporations, including their adherence to the national dividend policy.  

For the 2018 Financial Year, publicly traded bodies were obliged to pay 35 per cent of their actual net profit after taxes as dividends. 

A total of $15.1 million worth of dividends was collected in the 2018-2019 Financial Year. 

The amount comprised a total of $6 million in money uncollected in the preceding Financial Year; the total amount of money collected from net profit after tax; and $2.6 million in special payments. 

In a performance report for the October-December quarter of the 2018-2019 Financial Year, the M.P.E. last year revealed that the airline’s jet operations had run at a loss of $6.64 million. 

Minus the offset of income from other operations, the airline’s quarterly losses amounted to $4,805,440. 

Emails and calls to the M.P.E. Minister Lautafi Selafi Purcell and the Samoa Airways C.E.O. Seiuli Alvin Tuala were not answered as of press time.  

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