Maota Airport open for business by end of August
Samoa Airways will be flying to Savai'i from the end of August, with flights on Mondays and Fridays to boost weekend trips between the islands.
The airline, which has been without an internationally flying plane for several months, is eager to help develop a thriving domestic tourism market.
Chief Executive Officer Seiuli Alvin Tuala said the flights from Faleolo International Airport to Maota Airport, which take just ten minutes, will be a more convenient travel option.
“It is also a way to build support for local corporate businesses and considering the current pandemic, a way to support local tourism operators with a quick weekend getaway from Upolu option.
“The service is a good example of our Government’s commitment to improving travel for our own people.”
The first flight will be next Friday 28 August at 4pm to Maota and back to Faleolo at 4:50pm, after the upcoming repatriation flight from New Zealand has come and gone.
The schedule, for now, is to fly every Monday from Faleolo at 9am and back at 9:40, and Fridays at 4pm from Faleolo and back 4:40pm.
General Manager [Commercial] Leuluaialii Robert Rounds said as well as growing the domestic market, flights to the big island will help grow international tourism to Savai'i when borders do open.
He said among the reasons for the flights is the heavy demand for the ferry service on Fridays and Mondays, which have been proving to be full to near capacity.
“But there is also the demand from a corporate or business level, but it’s also a shorter time to get across the island, and the prospect of creating demand through packages as well.”
Samoa Airways will be partnering up with hoteliers and tourism operators on Savai'i, Leuluaialii said, combining their efforts with those of the businesses on the ground.
When international flights return, the airline intends to match up the Savai'i schedule with international arrivals in order to offer direct connections to the big island from Australia and New Zealand.
“We want to build a base for Savai'i, get it a bit known in terms of air traffic flow.
“It will allow us to market Savai'i a lot better on an international level, as part of a network.
Leuluaialii said he is unable to confirm how many Samoa Airways staff will be needed to operate the new route.
Soon the service will be on sale on the Samoa Airways website but for now tickets are available at the Apia office or over the phone. The airline intends to open a sales agent on Savai'i soon.
Leuluailii was unable to give any information on the status of Samoa Airways’ new international plane, which will be leased from the Netherlands and is expected to get to the country this year.
Prices for flights have not been released.