Is Polynesian set for comeback?
AN unhappy Samoa Government has signalled an end to its aviation agreement with Virgin Australia from November, opening opportunities for regional and international airlines to fly into Apia. Samoan Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, has been dissatisfied with fares for some time, claiming that Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand, formerly a Virgin Australia shareholder and the only other major airline servicing the island nation, had been colluding on fares.
Until 2005 when Virgin entered the market, Samoa had its own national carrier – Polynesian Airlines – with flights to Nadi, Auckland and Tonga. The termination of the Virgin contract means that Polynesian’s return is a distinct possibility on the back of a major push by Samoa for increased tourism arrivals from China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
“We can’t continue this partnership,” Malielegaoi wrote to Virgin Australia CEO, John Borghetti, in a letter sighted by the Samoa Observer. “For any country, they must have their national airline.” Malielegaoi went on to say that the decision to part ways had been made by Cabinet. “Following numerous, extensive discussions, Cabinet has decided not to renew the joint venture,” he said. “This can’t continue on especially when the airfares continue to increase and the hotels are complaining that there are no.....
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