The main entrance to the Faleolo International Airport Departure Lounge and departure gates
BY Tu’u’u Pelepesite/Photos by Gerwin Polu
APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 30 NOVEMBER 2016: The first phase of a US31.7 million project to upgrade the Faleolo International Airport was officially opened today.
The modern departure lounge is part of the project that is to attract 600,000 visitors annually when it is completed next year.
Both Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi and the Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China to Samoa, His Excellency Wang Xefeng agreed that the Faleolo International airport will be the best international airport in the Pacific when completed.
The departure lounge is the first of three phases of the upgrading of the airport built by the Shanghai Construction company from China.
Two years ago, the Government of the Peoples Republic of China and Samoa signed the agreement committing China to fund the work. The World Bank is also funding part of the overall upgrade.
The ground breaking ceremony was in July 2015 and started the work which was blessed today.
Ambassador Wang extended his warmest congratulations on the successful completion of this grand phase.
Tuilaepa in turn acknowledged the commitment of China to this project.
He said when phase 2 and 3 of the project are completed next year Faleolo Airport will host more than 6,000 travelers a year.
“This upgrading is a milestone in developing tourism between China and Samoa,” said Tuilaepa.
A month ago, Samoa and China signed an air services agreement paving way for commercial cooperation in air service, and setting a platform for tourism development.
“This is a significant event in the history of aviation in Samoa,” said Tuilaepa.
He said this was an achievement in the Governments 2012-2016 strategic plan.
He said the Samoa Airport Authority (SAA) vision is for Samoa to become the Pacific hub for air travel.
The new lounge is now used for international travel while the Arrival Lounge has been shifted to a temporary location at the old cargo facility.
The temporary arrangement is for eight months when the new Arrival Lounge will be completed as well as upgrading the airport apron and tarmac and building of four gangways that will take passengers directly to and from the aircrafts.