A Chinese Airline based in Haikou, Hainan Airlines is expected to recommence its services next month as Samoa’s Civil Aviation Division is finalising the application from the airline to continue direct flights to and from China to Samoa.
This was confirmed by the Minister for Civil Aviation, Olo Fiti Va’ai in an interview with Radio Samoa over the weekend.
In June of this year, Olo confirmed in Parliament that the Civil Aviation Division within the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure had received an application, which is known as the Foreign Air Operating Certificate.
Olo said they are planning on negotiating with the Chinese airline to go into “code-shares” so they can also service the Samoa to New Zealand route and hopefully see a decrease in terms of fares with another airline servicing this route.
He also confirmed that the Chinese airline in its application is proposing to have three to four flights from China to Samoa in one week as opposed to their initial proposal to have direct flights to Samoa once a week.
Speaking in Parliament during deliberations of the 2023-2024 Budget, Olo said the Hainan Airlines Co. Ltd had applied for a license to operate commercial flights to and from China. The airline is rated as a five-star airline by Skytrax and has 10 aircrafts, according to the Minister.
Samoa’s Civil Aviation Division within the Ministry finalising an assessment as per the normal process before the issuing of licenses for international airlines.
Olo further added that the prolonged assessment currently underway is to ensure that the airline and its aircraft meet international standards. The Vanuatu-based Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) is also part of the assessment before the certificate is issued.
The Minister said that the positive side of having nine to 10 aircraft is that there’s a certainty that if the airline does start operating commercial flights to and from Samoa, there will be no problem if one aircraft needs repairs.
All aircrafts, according to Olo, that operate these flights to Samoa will generate more income for the Samoa Airport Authority.
The Hainan Airlines was used by a Hong Kong-based travel company called Travel Focus which brought in over 500 Chinese tourists in the span of two weeks in Samoa in late May and early June this year. The direct chartered flights were halted by the Government of Samoa after it was discovered that they did not comply with civil aviation regulations for long-haul charter flights. Chartered flights are limited to two flights every 28 days a month.