Samoa to re-open flights with American Samoa this week

Screening for incoming passengers at Faleolo International Airport.

Staff Reporters

APIA, SAMOA – 17 JUNE 2020: Inter-Samoa air travel are to commence Thursday this week using Samoa Airways and Talofa Airways.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told Radio2AP last night that the flights primarily are for returning residents who have been on lockdown in American Samoa and Samoa. The returning residents will have been in American Samoa for 14 days and they will not be quarantined on arrival “as there is no Covid-19 case in American Samoa.”

He said negotiations with American Samoa are also continuing to re-open sea travel and trade links between the two Samoas.

Samoa – New Zealand Travel
Cabinet had been under pressure from the Minister and Ministry in charge of the RSE workers who want to return home. This was against the fact that New Zealand had been without new cases for over two weeks.

But the news of two new cases in New Zealand yesterday prompted the warning signs and the Samoan government may quickly change its decision accordingly to protect the virus from entering  the country.

Tuilaepa said negotiations with Air New Zealand are underway for bigger aircrafts to clear the many Samoans stranded in New Zealand since the borders closed.

The Air New Zealand aircraft that brought the last lot of returning passengers 29 May.
The Air New Zealand aircraft that brought the last lot of returning passengers 29 May.

Tuilaepa said the intention is to use a bigger Air New Zealand aircraft for the flight scheduled on 26 June to fly back as many as 300 people. “The plan is to have the backlog cleared by the end of July,” Tuilaepa said.

“If by that time, other RSE workers have completed their contracts, they will be returned as well.”

Also under discussion is charted flights to bring back RSE workers and they are looking at costs.

So far, two special flights had arrived from New Zealand since lockdown. All the 146 on the first flight have been cleared and the passengers on the second flight on 29 May and have been under quarantine and are without any symptoms of the virus.

The PM said the challenge facing the Ministry of Health now is the shortage of test kits with only 200 left. “We’re not sure when we will receive further supplies and I spoke with the New Zealand leader yesterday for help on this,” said Tuilaepa.

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