APIA: TUESDAY 27 JANUARY 2015: Samoa Air and Coral Sun Airways have announced their intentions to provide for Regular weekly Air Transport services between their two countries as well as offering charter services across the Pacific. The service will oper-ate by way of a stop at Funafuti Airport in Tuvalu and so provide for a connection from Tuvalu to both Samoa and to Kiribati direct.
None of these routes is being currently serviced and Tuvalu and Kiribati have been without a direct link for many years.
The communion is a Joint Venture between the two Airlines which are both National Carriers and are both Pri-vate Enterprise Operators locally owned and operated in their respective countries.
The Service is expected to start in the first week of March. Other Routes including to Niue, Tonga , Fiji and the Northern Cook Islands are being evaluated as the two Airlines intend to further develop their joint services in collaboration with other Regional Partners.
The Aircraft is a Beechcraft Super King Air 200 which is a pressurized aircraft with a configuration of 8 seats laid out in Executive style couches and individual seating. The King Air is a multi engine turbo prop and pressurized and cruises at jet levels and has been one of the most popular aircraft of all time. It is the Primary Aircraft used in Australia by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Flights are planned to depart Faleolo Airport on a Tuesday morning and will return via the same route on a Fri-day. The Airline has applied for a regular service between Samoa and Tonga.
Samoa Air CEO Chris Langton says that this is a very significant event.
“This is a first for a long time in terms of Regional Flights by a Samoan Carrier from Samoa. Its also something of a re invention of the wheel as I can recall flying the first Samoan Registered aircraft into Funafuti in 1980 and I still have the framed memento signed by the Prime Minister of the day and which now hangs in our Office here in Apia. So this has been a long time coming.”
Samoa Air sees this as the start of ongoing regional partnerships intended to restore Samoa as a Pacific Hub. We are also planning to extend into regional Jet services by way of partnerships with other carriers who share the same interests which we do.
Langton says that there has already been a lot of interest shown in Samoan fresh vegetables and fruit supplies to both Tuvalu and to Kiribati. “Its very difficult for our growers to get into places like New Zealand and Australia but there are opportunities for us to supply to our Pacific neighbours and we are talking about fresh produce picked same day so I think its going to be much sought after.”
We also see the benefit of an option for both Kiribati and Tuvalu passengers to connect via Samoa to Australia and to New Zealand and also to Honolulu and of course there has been no connection between Tuvalu and Kiribati for a very long time.
Coral Sun will be offering charter to Canton Island and to Christmas Island as an extension of domestic services from within Kiribati and both destinations can also be reached from Samoa. Coral Sun CEO says there are also options to include flights to Majuro in the Marshall Islands.
Samoa Air intends to continue with its “pay by weight” scheme for Passengers. “Its still the fairest way of paying for air travel” says the CEO. “Aircraft still only have weight to sell so its up to the client to tell us how much weight they want to pay for and that way the baggage always travels. No such thing as excess baggage rates as we charge the same rate per kilo regardless whether its cargo or passenger”.
Samoa Air has also given notice that it will recommence Pago services sometime in March and will be offering their XL class seats to better cater for Passengers who would enjoy the extra space. Our rates will be very competitive and we will offer some other incentives for people to make the trip less costly. This will be a scheduled service seven days a week from Faleolo.
Aero Medical Services
Langton says the King Air also comes equipped with facilities to convert the aircraft into Aero Medical configuration. “We have decided to keep the Life Port system and Medical equipments here in Samoa as this is probably the more suitable location at this time. We are also working with Samoa NHS to train some local Doctors and Paramedics in the operation of the equipment so that they can be employed by us to provide patient care in flight. Samoa Air believes that it is the first local Airline in the Pacific to provide Air Ambulance services.
Samoa Air continues to provide Air Taxy to and from Savaii from Faleolo and has specialised in providing Air Surveillance to a number of Countries including Samoa in support of the Australian Pacific Patrol Boat scheme. The Sea Surveillance is part of the protection of the EEZ against illegal fishing. Samoa Air says its contribution is going extremely well and is being further extended across the Pacific with its primary base here in Samoa.