APIA (17 Feb 2009) – Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Misa Telefoni Retzlaff expressed says he doubted the loyalty of Air New Zealand to Samoa in negotiating the continuation of flights to Los Angeles.
Misa said that during lengthy negotiation processes with the airline in the past three months, he got the impression that the airline was not to keen to continue the flight between Samoa and Los Angeles at all. “I had the impression myself that they would have preferred to pull the flight,” Misa told Talamua. “I do not know that they were necessarily very happy that New Zealand came to the party,” he added. Misa who is also the Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour describes the negotiation process which took place, and ended in a signed agreement as ‘arduous’ and ‘lengthy’.
“The whole time that this whole three month negotiation went on, what made it easier that I kept Caroline Bilkey totally in the loop,” Misa said.
Bilkey, the New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa therefore had all the records of negotiations.
“Basically Air New Zealand said they were coming to Samoa on the evening of the 2nd (February), we either sign the deal on 3rd or they pull the flight from the 31st March.”
The deal was signed, Samoa and Tonga were to contribute 1million each, and New Zealand to foot the bill if there should be any losses on Samoas part.
Misa said, luckily for the foresight of the Government in talking to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully during the Forum Leaders meeting in Papua New Guinea the NZ Government came to Samoas aid.
“McCully wrote a letter dated 30th January, just in time, the New Zealand government basically bought into our cost-benefit analysis, therefore enabling the agreement to be signed on the day Air New Zealand reps came to Samoa,” Misa said.
The Los Angeles flight will continue operating for another year beginning 31st of March.
The continuation of the flight ensures a guaranteed SAT$6,335,024 injection into the economy through tourism, commercial, services and export sector according to a feasibility study conducted by Pacific Corporate Services Limited.