by Lance Polu
APIA: WEDNESDAY 12 DECEMBER 2012: Private airline operator Samoa Air has instituted a new way of working out how much travellers pay when flying with them.
Instead of a given standard fare for certain flights and routes, Samoa Air is introducing fares based on the cost per kilo rate set for each sector flown.
“We use the travelling weight of the customer or group to determine the travel costs,” says airline spokesman To’a To’omata. “I think we are the first airline to use this system which is very fair and which ensures that we fly safely.”
It is understood that even bigger airlines are struggling with the seat per fare concept.
“The cost per kilo is used for everything which is carried including bags and freight. It’s a one price fits all system and does away with excess baggage.”
The new system means that families travelling with children will only have to pay for their weight rather than paying a full adult fare for an eleven year old.
“The kids and Mum and dad get weighed and they plus their bags are charged a flat rate per kilo for that sector,” says CEO Chris Langton.
“Paying by the seat and paying excess baggage has always been an unfair system,” says Langton. “It was going to take an innovative airline to do this and we would like to think that we are leading the way,” says the former international pilot.
The rate for a flight from Fagali’i to Maota is $1.47 per kilo and $1.00 per kilo from Faleolo to Maota. Passengers travelling from Maota to Pago could expect to pay $4.16 per kilo for themselves and baggage. A passenger has to secure a seat with a $50 tala deposit which goes towards their travelling weight fee which can be paid in advance or on check in.
The Airline, launched this year, is awaiting the US approval to commence operations from Maota, Savai’i to Pago Pago to start with two flights a week.
“The airline hopes to serve the need for a flight between Pago and Ofu Island if the US authorities are prepared to issue a waiver against a foreign operator doing domestic flying,” says Langton.
The flight would be conducted by charter of the Airline by an organisation in American Samoa requesting for a flight to Manu’a under the rules determined by the US authorities.
“This is a really exciting prospect because like Savai’i, the Manu’a Islands have been without an air service for a long time and now we are very close to being able to provide for them like Savai’i,” says the airline.
The airline is also looking at spreading its wings into regional services next year and even into international operations sometime in 2013.
“We have a lot of plans,” says Langton. “And we plan to use this revolutionary concept from here on.”