Talofa Airways state of emergency breach fine

Talofa Airways was slapped with a $6,000 fine by the National Emergency Operation Center (N.E.O.C.) for failing to comply with state of emergency restrictions after bringing a pilot from Vanuatu into Samoa. 

The airline is alleged to have brought in the pilot from Vanuatu without the required Government authorisation. 

“We understand and [of course] we're trying to protect the country, but there are certain things [we should] use logic and common sense; don’t just stick to the [rules]," said Talofa Airways C.E.O., Toleafoa Jeffrey Hunter.  

“It's unusual times and we will just leave as it is."

The airline chief confirmed the pilot they transported works for Samoa Airways. 

“All his documents were there, it was just the final approval from N.E.O.C. that I forgot to [inquire] about,” said Toleafoa. 

“All his medical clearance was in place, he had a port visa, and also his temporary residence and letters from Samoa Airways confirming the pilot... all those were there. 

“However [in these] circumstances…..and if I was [in Samoa], I would have applied for everything.

“But I didn’t know this [pilot] was coming. When I got [to Vanuatu] and was told this [was] a Samoa Airways [staff member] and he’s got his airfare and I just wanted to sight his documents.” 

Toleafoa admitted that it was an oversight that he “completely forgot” to get approval from the N.E.O.C. 

Toleafoa said that Samoa Airways had not assisted them with covering the $6000 fine. 

“I was hoping they would take some responsibility with their request and the [Talofa] Airline does not ask for N.E.O.C.’s approval. [Samoa Airways] are the ones that are responsible for preparing the proper documents,” he said. 

The Samoa Observer has contacted Samoa Airways' Chief Executive Officer, Seiuli Alvin Tuala, via email but has not received a response. 

The Talofa Airways C.E.O. said he had further hoped for Government leniency to be shown their case, given the declines facing their industry. 

“The [tourism] industry that depends on travelers is suffering, and I was hoping they would be lenient, but what’s happened has happened," he said. 

The Samoa Observer sent queries to the interim Chairman of the National Emergency Operations Centre Agafili Shem Leo for comments, who acknowledged with an assurance that he will get back to the newspaper. 

Agafili said the “[National Emergency Operations Centre] has dealt with it.

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