Air Malindo cancellation soon as tomorrow
The Government is rapidly negotiating a lease for a new aircraft to service Samoa Airways while ending the wet lease deal with the Malaysian Air Malindo airline as early as tomorrow.
The Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, confirmed to the Samoa Observer that the ending of the lease deal with the Malaysian headquartered airline was expected to end imminently and after Samoa closed its borders.
“The [Air Malindo] crew are packing all their stuff including [aircraft] spare parts they brought with them,” said Lautafi.
“Due to the uncertainty of things with COVID-19 we have decided to end our lease with Malindo.”
The Minister added the new lease is expected to be secured when travel bans are lifted.
He did not say which company the Government was in discussion with and whether the aircraft is near new or not.
However, Lautafi assured the lease will be a lot cheaper than the current deal with Air Malindo.
Samoa Airways had recently extended the wet lease with Air Malindo that expired in February to the month of May.
The Government was forced into a “wet lease” of an Air Malindo plane following the Boeing 737-Max grounding which scotched its planned receipt of another leased plane.
In a previous interview with Lautafi he said the lease extension had a clause to allow Samoa Airways to cancel its lease before May if they managed to find another aircraft.
He said the search for a replacement plane, particularly a modern one has been proven challenging.
“We have the Malindo and the next option if we can’t find that newer plane we would have to look at a 10 year old plane but it would require a lot of maintenance,” he said.
“We have to look at all of that and balance it out. Those are our options…”
He emphasised the impact of the global grounding of the Boeing Max to Samoa.