Samoa Airways gets $1 million to pay bills

Samoa Airways has been given $1 million tala as part of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery stimulus package tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. 

The allocation was part of a $66 million second Supplementary Budget 2019/2020 approved by Parliament during a special sitting under State of Emergency lockdown orders.  

The  Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, said the $1 million tala capital injection to the national carrier is to assist Samoa Airways pay its dues to local businesses. 

He made reference to the travel bans across the globe and how border shutdowns have severely impacted the Airline's operations.

In an interview with the Minister of Samoa Airways, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, he said the assistance will be used to pay the airline's outstanding bills. 

“The airline has no money and that sum will help in paying bills, whether it's for staff wages then then so be it,” said Lautafi. 

“Whatever the urgent bills are then that will be the priority [for payments]…” 

The Minister also explained why the assistance was included under the private sector stimulus package. 

He pointed out the airline is a major contributor to the tourism sector and the funding being allocated under the private sector care pack was appropriate for that reason. 

“That is the whole part of the package," he said. "It is for the hospitality and tourism industry and our national carrier is under that category.” 

Samoa Airways currently has no aircraft after it ended its wet lease with Maylasian airline, Malindo Air, last week. 

Lautafi said the end of the lease was timely as the Government consider the next steps for the national flag carrier.

He said the Government was in discussion with another company for another aircraft that is expected to be a lot cheaper than the Malindo Air lease. 

He was at liberty to divulge further information about the discussions.

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