Parliamentary Finance Committee asks Samoa Air to pay debt to Polynesian Airlines

Samoa Air’s lone aircraft no longer flying

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA: FRIDAY 20 JUNE 2014: One of the recommendations from the Parliamentary Finance Committee in its report discussed in Parliament today was for the financially troubled Samoa Air company to pay the debt it owes Polynesia Airlines company.

This is one of four recommendations cited by the Committee following their investigations and reported to Cabinet in June 2013.

The Committee said for Polynesia Airline to continue it’s good financial results, Samoa Air needs to pay up.

Polynesian Airlines outgoing Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Taua Fatu Tielu named the amount owed in a letter to Samoa Air owner Christopher Langton in April last year.

The amount owed, $49,318.63 was for the use of Fagalii airport for domestic flights between Upolu and Savaii.

The amount was disputed by Chris Langton of Samoa.

Taua Fatu Tielu ultimately resigned as CEO when seemed he had no support from Government over what he thought was best for Polynesian Airlines and protecting its interests from Samoa Air as a competitor.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for the government state own airline company, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo said Government understands the importance of loans in developing a business, but Cabinet is looking into it.

Polynesia Airlines received credit from the Committee for being upfront and reliable in their managerial operations.

This is due to the profits they received every year after the financial report.

The Committee also recommended that Polynesia Airline should be privatized.

The recommendation is based on the financial stability, sustainability and the good managerial status of the company to manage their own work.

The Airline has recorded annual profits of $1.5 million for the last two years according to the Committee report.

“If it does become privatized, then an advisory committee should be created under the Ministry of Finance to work with the company,” Fonote told the House this morning.

“Government is also looking at this recommendation,” said Fonotoe.

The Committee also recommended to Government whether there is a need to keep Fagali’i airport or direct all flights to Faleolo international airport.

Fagalii airport was closed in January 2005 and re-opened in 2009.

Government saw the need to re-open the airport purely for the economics of the airports vicinity to town and the main business centre.

“Since the re-opening of the airport, more people are travelling between American Samoa and Samoa on business,” said Fonotoe.

“The airport is an asset in boosting the country’s economy,” said Fonotoe.