Samoa Airways plane further delayed

The surge in COVID-19 cases in Europe has continued to delay the delivery of Samoa Airways new aircraft that was initially scheduled to touch down at Faleolo Airport in July. 

This was confirmed by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, who dismissed reports that the new aircraft is expected this month. 

“Due to new upsurge of covid in Europe we have had to re-plan the dates for possible delivery,” said the Minister, who is also responsible for the national carrier. 

Lautafi added the details will be confirmed once they are finalised. 

The Johns Hopkins University reported the United Kingdom covid cases has peaked in the month of November with 1,195,350 cases and 49,134 deaths.

In previous interviews with the Samoa Observer, the Minister spoke about the difficulty in commissioning of the aircraft due to closure of international borders.    

Samoa Airways has been without an aircraft since March this year, when the Government ended its lease with the Malaysian Malindo Air as international flights were grounded to a halt as the global pandemic peaked.

In Parliament this year, Lautafi said the Government was planning to lease a new Boeing 737-800 from Norway. 

The aircraft was in Amsterdam at the time and was expected to arrive in the country in late July to early August. 

It is understood the aircraft will be leased from the firm Fokker Techniek M.R.O., a leading aircraft maintenance and completion company based in Woensdrecht, the Netherlands.  

Lautafi said the Government was now able to secure it on a much reduced rate and assured the new plane was much cheaper than the rates charged for the Malindo Air aircraft.

“They may say there are now many planes available but it's not as easy as that," he said in Parliament.

"We looked for a plane that is suitable for us, not an old plane.

"A plane that can [be secured under a] dry lease agreement so our [own people can be utilised,” he said.

Earlier this month the American Samoa Government said it was preparing to file suit in the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Samoa Airways to start operating flights into Pago Pago from Hawai’i.

Currently non-American airlines are prevented from operating routes only within that country. 

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