Fiji Airways Managing Director Andre Viljoen and Samoa Airways Chief Executive Officer Seiuli Tupuivao Avin Tuala after signing the MOU
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 24 JULY 2017: Samoa Airways and Fiji Airways today signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Apia, to pursue a range of commercial opportunities and partnerships in the airline industry.
Signed by Fiji Airways Managing Director Andre Viljoen and Samoa Airways Chief Executive Officer Seiuli Tupuivao Alvin Tuala, Fiji Airways will provide initial support to Samoa Airways to help launch its international services to and from Apia to Auckland and Sydney through Fiji Airways established infrastructure in sales, commercial, operations and maintenance.
“The proposed commercial partnership between Samoa Airways and Fiji Airways is another extension of the already close relationship Fiji Airways continues to enjoy with the Government of Samoa in terms of promoting improved access into Samoa from other markets outside of Australia and New Zealand,” says Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO, Andre Viljoen.
Pacific Partnership Alliance Agreement
The Chairman of Polynesian Airlines, Fe’esago Siaosi Fepulea’i confirmed that with the signing of the MOU, separate commercial and operations agreements are now being negotiated between the two airlines which will form part of overall Pacific Partnership Alliance Agreement between the two airlines.
“Under the MOU, there will be specific routes like Samoa to New Zealand and Australia that will be solely managed by Samoa Airways and other routes where both airlines will jointly manage through codesharing and interlining,” said Fe’esago.
“WE are very pleased the MOU has been signed so both airlines can progress to conclude negotiations on the Pacific Partnership Alliance as soon as possible,” says Andre Viljoen.
“Fiji Airways has been the leading airline of the South Pacific for decades and we’re more than happy to help Samoa Airways’ efforts to re-launch international flights,” he added.
Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi congratulated both Airlines on the signing of the MOU that signifies the first joint step to cement their union in the form of a Pacific Alliance.
“The decision of our Government to pursue s commercial partnership with Fiji Airways was driven mainly by the critical need to look beyond New Zealand and Australia and pen Samoa up to the world through Fiji Airways long-haul network which includes direct flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Singapore into Nadi and potential connectivity opportunities presented through its larger network with other airline partners,” said Tuilaepa.
Samoa is ending its partnership arrangement with Virgin Airlines in September and the Prime Minister has indicated that the Virgin’s belated application to increase flights into Samoa from two to five may not be favoured.
Controlling our airspace
Speaking to the media after the signing, Andre Viljoen says, “The Pacific is ours, not foreign and it up to us to control our airspace, and this is an important way forward to control our future.”
The agreement took many months of diligent and hard work with the focus on two aspects.
One is to assist Polynesian Airlines to set up its own internal operation to New Zealand and Australia through the operation of its own aircraft.
Secondly is the commercial relationship between the two airlines and providing service cooperation to install an international system of operation.
Fiji Airways has been in business for 65 years and its strategic value is owning its own airline which brings in 65% of tourists.
Seiuli Tupuivao Alvin Tuala said negotiations have not been easy especially on a project that Government has tried to revive.
“Polynesia Airlines has been in operation for 56 years and we have learnt from many mistakes in the past,” he said.
“We really need an airline that is affordable but able to connect us to the world,” said Seiuli.
“We need to bring tourists in and we see our partnership with Fiji Airways offering that doorway for us to Europe, US and Asia through this connection,” Seiuli added.