Samoa Airways new plane to come from Netherlands

An aircraft that Samoa Airways is proposing to lease will come from a Dutch company in the Netherlands.

The Minister of State Enterprise, Lautafi Fio Purcell, told the Parliament that he wanted to state for the record that the leased Boeing 737-800 will come from the Netherlands,not Norway.

The aircraft is currently in Amsterdam and is expected to arrive in the country late July to early August.

It is understood the aircraft will be leased from the firm Fokker Techniek MRO, which is a world-leading aircraft maintenance and completion company in Woensdrecht, the Netherlands.  

Lautafi said the rates for the new plane are much cheaper which explains the delay by the Government to secure it.

"The [new plane] is much cheaper. This is why it was such a hard search. 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, it may be cheap but it might break down, bad engine and too much maintenance, [we aimed] for a plane that is easy for us to manage.

"A plane that can go under a dry lease agreement so our people can be utilized. Most of our airline employees have been put on leave until another time, those who are directly affected, while the others are still working on half a pay."

Lautafi revealed that four factors affected the operations of Samoa Airways: the global grounding of the Boeing Max fleet; Australian bushfires that had an impact on the Australian market and the country’s three flights a week to Samoa; the deadly measles epidemic; and the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

Details of the Government’s plans to lease an aircraft were revealed in Parliament last month by the  Anoama’a West Member Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, during debate on the 2020-2021 budget.

According to Fonotoe, 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.

“If it's $254,000 for a 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.”

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