Qantas Airways renews license to fly to Samoa

PHOTO: Qantas

Qantas Airways Limited has applied to Samoa’s Ministry for Works Transport and Infrastructure to fly two routes between two Australian east coast cities and Samoa. 

The interest shown by one of the world’s largest airlines to service the Samoa-Australia route could see it go up against Australian rival and budget airline Virgin Australia.

Qantas made its intention known to renew its Air Service License (ASL) to operate scheduled flights from Australia to Samoa and Samoa to Australia in a public notice last week.

The Australian flag carrier has a “principal place of business in Australia and representatives in Apia Samoa” that gave notice for to apply for the ASL licence to the Ministry of Works Transport and Infrastructure. 

“Qantas proposes the launch direct services from Brisbane and Sydney to Apia with additional frequencies and city-pairs to be added,” the notice published in the Samoa Observer states. 

“Written objections concerning the application may be made to the Ministry of Works Transport and Infrastructure within 14 days from the date of publication of this notice.” 

Several attempts to get a comment from the Ministry of Works Transport and Infrastructure’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tilianamua Aloalii were unsuccessful. 

Since January this year, Qantas Airways aircraft have been flying to the Faleolo International Airport as part of charter flights to uplift seasonal workers contracted to work in Australia. 

Virgin Australia is the other airline that is currently servicing the same route to Australia with an application to renew it’s ASL licence approved earlier this year. 

Air services provided by foreign airlines is currently the only option available to Samoan travellers when the borders reopen in August after the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) Government terminated a Samoa Airways lease of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft. 

Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa made it clear that the decision to abandon the lease is due to the mounting financial expenditure incurred by the national carrier during the pandemic as well as its inappropriate timing. 

In a recent interview, Mata’afa said the ceasing of the lease did not mean there is no air transport for travellers and pointed to international airlines flying into and out of the country. 

“Even without a plane there are options available for people to travel and that is most important,” she said. Samoa will open its national borders to the outside world in August after two years of border closure and restrictions while Samoan citizens were given the green light to travel into the country in May this year.