Samoa Airways still negotiated aircraft lease: management

Samoa Airways is still negotiating the lease of a Boeing 737-800 with an aircraft lessor and the divulging of information surrounding any agreement would be “reckless and damaging”, says the State-owned company’s management.

The national airline, in a statement distributed by the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet at around 7pm Thursday night, was critical of an editorial published by the Samoa Observer on Wednesday that touched on the airline’s new aircraft, the cost of the lease and a reported $300 million in losses in past operations.

Denying a report published by this newspaper on Tuesday that the airline’s management refused to comment, Samoa Airways said the aircraft is currently in the Netherlands while negotiations continue with its owner. 

“The airline did not refuse to comment as mentioned by the paper, but however stated that the airline would provide a press release once negotiations on the aircraft lease was complete,” the statement reads.

“The lease is still under negotiation with the lessor and information surrounding the agreement cannot be divulged due its confidentiality. It would be reckless and damaging to do so. The airline would be able to release more information once an agreement is signed.

“The airline confirms there are no payments for the aircraft while it sits on the ground in the Netherlands. The aircraft will be used to support repatriation flights from NZ, Australia, Fiji, and other destinations to ensure we get our people home.”

The airline management also said the aircraft, upon its arrival in Samoa, will be used to provide much needed freighter flights and medevac services for the people. 

“In addition, the airline would be able to provide charter support to neighboring countries who are at the mercy of larger carriers when trying to seek support for their own people.”

Below is the media statement printed verbatim in full:

Samoa Airways responds to the Samoa Observers Editorial comment on 25th November 2020.

The newspaper published an Editorial on several topics, including the airlines new aircraft, its lease cost and continued its claims of a $300 million loss during the airlines past operations.

It is a shame that the paper continues to be content with publishing news that lacks credibility, unverifiable facts, and a lack of understanding of the aviation industry.

The newspaper seems content to perpetuate misleading, one-sided stories that grossly undermines the ethics of good journalism.

Samoa Airways response is set out below. The airline did not refuse to comment as mentioned by the paper but however stated that the airline would provide a press release once negotiations on the aircraft lease was complete.

  • The aircraft is currently located in the Netherlands.

  • The Lease is still under negotiation with the Lessor and information surrounding the agreement cannot be divulged due its confidentiality. It would be reckless and damaging to do so. The airline would be able to release more information once an agreement is signed.

  • The airline confirms there are no payments for the aircraft while it sits on the ground in the Netherlands.

  • The aircraft will be used to support repatriation flights from NZ, Australia, Fiji, and other destinations to ensure we get our people home.

  • The aircraft will also support much needed freighter flights and medevac services for our people. In addition, the airline would be able to provide charter support to neighboring countries who are at the mercy of larger carriers when trying to seek support for their own people.

  • The airline Management and Staff have been working under very trying circumstances with COVID, sacrificing financially and personal time to secure this aircraft.

  • The newspaper continues to report misleading information of a $300 million tala debt. The actual amount was much less, and these debts were settled by the Government at that time.

The airline continues to work towards securing  an aircraft and like everyone; looks forward to when things do return to some level of normalcy. Once the aircraft arrives it  will be used to support the people of Samoa through repatriation flights, freighter flights, medevac flights, and charter flights as and when required. These would be done at reasonable rates that will benefit our people and our country.

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