Samoa Airways proposes $30 million loan

National carrier Samoa Airways is proposing that a $30 million tala loan is taken from the Unit Trust of Samoa to assist finance the operation of a soon-to-be leased Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Details of the proposed loan from U.T.O.S. were revealed in Parliament on Thursday by the Member of Parliament for Anoama’a West, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo during debate on the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget. 

Fonotoe told the Parliament that the Minister responsible for Samoa Airways and the airline management were recently overseas for negotiations to lease a five-year-old plane from a Norwegian company.

The monthly cost of the aircraft lease is US$254,000 which is $678,000 tala as recorded in the Samoa Polynesian Airlines annual report tabled in Parliament, according to the M.P.

“If it's $254,000 for monthly lease I believe it is cheaper than the previous lease we had,” he said. “During this time there are ongoing problems faced by airline companies around the world with some facing bankruptcy and aircrafts grounded. 

“I believe if the aircraft and its operation is properly managed we will be able to lease another aircraft afterwards once the first one expected in August arrives…” 

Furthermore, Fonotoe urged the Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the airline to manage its funding to ensure that the company can afford its loan repayment.  

In an interview with the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell confirmed that the airline will be taking a loan of a “couple of millions” to lease the aircraft. 

He said the aircraft is expected to arrive in July and is currently getting a fresh paint and proper clearance before it is brought over. 

Samoa Airways has been without an aircraft in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in March when the Government ended its lease with the Malaysian carrier Malindo Air.

The 2020-2021 fiscal year budget being deliberated on includes a $5 million tala payout to Samoa Airways by the Government as compensation for the Fagalii airport which is now closed.

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