New Chief Justice on repatriation flight

Newly appointed Chief Justice, His Honour Satiu Simativa Perese, is among passengers on an Air New Zealand flight scheduled to arrive on Friday.

The Auckland-Apia service was initially announced as a repatriation flight for Samoans stranded in New Zealand, but was changed during the week to a freight service, following compliance issues faced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (M.F.A.T.) in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) testing requirements for arriving passengers.

However, Samoa Observer has learnt that the flight will now have a small group of passengers with Air New Zealand officials making that confirmation on Thursday.

“The [Friday] Auckland to Apia service will operate tomorrow largely with cargo on board,” an airline official said, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer. “There are expected to be a small number of passengers also on board, who have been pre-approved by and meet the conditions of the Government of Samoa.”

Satiu, when contacted by Samoa Observer, confirmed he is on the flight with a small group of people. 

“It is the only available flight that I can come on and the swearing-in [ceremony] has been scheduled on 5 June, 2020,” he said. “I will arrive on 22 May and will most certainly be quarantined for 14 days and the ceremony will proceed as soon as I am cleared from [that] process." 

Questions on how these passengers were selected for this flight, out of the more than 1,000 Samoans who are seeking their way home from New Zealand, were referred to the Government of Samoa.

Attempts to get a comment from the M.F.A.T. Chief Executive Officer, Peseta Noumea Simi, was unsuccessful as of press time. 

The flight operated by Air New Zealand is scheduled to arrive at 1:40pm Friday at the Faleolo International Airport.

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