“Samoa Airways aircraft lease confidential,” says Minister

Samoa Airways on lease from Iceland Airways arriving at Faleolo Airport on its inaugural flight last month

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 26 JANUARY 2018: The cost of the Samoa Airways aircraft lease cannot be made public due to the agreement with the airline company the aircraft and crew is leased from.

Under questioning from members of parliament, the Minister in charge of the airline, Lautafi Selafi Purcell said, the airline signed a confidential agreement with the company not to reveal the lease details including the amount paid by Samoa for the lease.

“These are commercially sensitive information that should be kept secret from other airline companies and those are the terms we agreed to, said the Minister.

He however explained the terms of the lease and the Government’s intention to lease another aircraft from the same company at the end of the year.

Lautafi told Parliament that the Samoa Airways aircraft is under a wet lease agreement for 12 months that includes utilizing the service of the airline company that owns the aircraft for that period.

He explained that after the 12 month wet lease, the agreement will then fall under a dry lease arrangement which means the cost of the lease will also drop.

After this period, Samoan pilots and crew under training under the lease arrangement will take over.

“Samoa cannot afford to buy an airline which is estimated at $300 million, and the only option is to deal through such agreements,” said Lautafi.

The Member of Parliament for Alataua West, Ali’imalemanu Alofa Tu’uau who raised the issue then asked how long the lease was and if there was a time  frame for the lease to be reviewed.

“The lease will be reviewed and renegotiated after 3 years,” said Lautafi.

Lautafi Selafi Purcell addressing parliament yesterday

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi assured Parliament that local pilots are well trained and knowledgeable in handling such aircrafts.

“Some of our local pilots have worked in Singapore training that country’s pilots , and our  engineers are licensed  to look after and maintain big Boeing airlines because they have the skills for such work,” said Tuilaepa.

Lautafi assured that parliament and the public will know the cost details when Samoa Airways company reports are tabled in Parliament. But in the meantime, everything is confidential.