His Highness the Head of State, Tuimalealiifano Vaaleto’a Sualauvi 11 and Masiofo Faamausili Leinafo lead the tour of the new airline
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 13 NOVEMBER 2017: The Samoa Airways management team is working on recalling all Samoan local pilots working internationally to assist in the operation of the new Samoa International Airline.
“Yes, we are starting to get our local pilots by May next year,” the Chief Executive Officer for Samoa Airways, Tupuivao Alvin Tuala told Talamua after the official launch of the airline this afternoon.
The Samoan pilots were forced to seek employment with overseas airlines in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific when the former national carrier Polynesian Airlines cut its operations from Boeing jets to only Twin Otters flying the Apia/American Samoa route.
Seiuli said the airlines local crew are undergoing training for the next six months, and once they are ready, the will sign on and take over from the Italian crew currently manning the airline.
Renamed Samoa Airways, the airlines single B737-800 is on a wet lease from Icelandair.
At the launch at Faleolo Airport this afternoon, the rain did not dampen the spirit of the officials and guests who turned out to witness the occasion.
The President of the Samoa Hotel Association, Adele Kruse acknowledged the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi and Cabinet for having the courage to allow Samoa back in the air.
“This is an exciting time for Samoa, in order for us to move forward, we have to take the wheel to drive us to our destination,” said Adele.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors for Samoa Airways, Fe’esago Siaosi Fepulea’i acknowledged the bold move by Government to invest in Samoa’s own airline.
“The decision for Samoa to have its own airline is the right decision by Government, although many challenges and threats were thrown at the Government,” he said.
Fepuleai said there were constructive criticisms and also some very destructive ones towards the project and he is called on all Samoans to come together and support the new venture.
One of the guests, Blue-Sky Samoa Chief Executive Officer Abraham Varghese said it was good to see Samoa back in the air with her own brand.
“It’s a very proud day for me to see our airline flying again and we will support it in whatever way we can, even encouraging our staff to fly Samoa’s national airline,” he told Talamua.