By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA: There is a lack of consultation and communication impacting negatively on the Samoa Airways flight services between Apia and Savaii when there is a real need for the service.
Just this week, Samoa Airways cancelled flights to Savaii saying there were no passengers. But the Savaii Hotel Association told Talamua there is a lack of communication between the airline and the industry when they should be working together to find ways to ensure that this service is available for the island.
Tupa’i Sale’imoa Va’ai of the Savaii Hotel Association said the recent launch of the Apia-Savaii flight service which later cancelled, was due to the lack of communication.
“They went out and announced the launch without any consultation or discussion with the industry, not even a marketing strategy to market it, or an invite for the association or business community,” said Tupa’i.
The owner of Vaimoana Resort in Asau believes that before the launch, there should have been consultation and a strategy in place rather than announcing the service and expect it to run on its own.
“Samoa Airways itself is its own entity and they should be doing everything they should to market it and entice the people to fly. They have to do their work as well and look at affordable costs,” said Tupa’i.
“We have always asked that we need to communicate before any offer or announcement is made,” said Tupa’i.
Meeting with Samoa Airways for a way forward
Tupa’i said they met with Samoa Airways officials yesterday and discussed ways to boost the flight service to Savaii.
“We looked at ways to work together and we intend to find ways to take this forward by sharing ideas,” he said.
“What should be happening now is to prepare hotel packages and approach the business community in Savaii because every launch needs a bit of exposure, not just an announcement,” said Tupai.
High cost for a short distance
We fought for costing because flying from Faleolo to Maota takes only 10 minutes and the cost was going to determine how viable and affordable to the people.
“$89 is probably okay but is too high for the distance, especially the added tax compared to traveling by boat,” said Tupai.
“We even probe for a service from Faleolo to Asau and hopefully when the proper launch happens in October, everything is set out,” he said.
Savaii Businesses affected by Sunday travel lockdown
With tourism badly affected by the border closure, the business community in Savaii is relying on domestic tourists and Savaii is always busy on the weekend.
But since the lock down and the State of Emergency travel ban on Sundays, business had been badly affected.’
He pointed out that the ban has affected Savaii people working in Apia who return home on the weekends.
“We keep asking for Sunday trips because it’s essential for people working in Apia and business,” said Tupai.