SAY HELLO TO SAMOA AIRWAYS: FIRST COMMERCIAL FLIGHT ACCOMPLISHED
MARÍA CORINA ROLDAN
MIAMI — Samoa Airways operated its inaugural flight OL731 today from Apia to Auckland on their single aircraft Boeing 737-800.
Their first flight OL731 was operated on a Boeing 737-86N(WL), leased from Italian leisure carrier NEOS, carrying dignitaries and passengers including Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.
The Apia – Auckland route will be operated on a six-time-a-week frequency, which by mid-December is planned to increase to daily flights. The route from Sydney to Apia will be operated with twice-weekly rounds.
“It’s going to be very special to our Samoan community that they can fly back home and to New Zealand on the flag carrying airline of Samoa,” said Auckland mayor, Phil Goff.
Last May, the Samoan Government announced the replacement of the state-owned Polynesian Airlines with a rebranded new carrier, Samoa Airways. This was just after the government ceased agreements with Virgin Samoa — the joint venture they had with Virgin Australia Holdings.
Additionally, last month Virgin Australia was blocked by the Samoan Government from operating the Auckland route. The airline, however, is allowed to operate services from Brisbane and Sydney to Faleolo International Airport.
“This is another opportunity for our people to travel, business to grow and Samoa to grow,” said Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, Minister of Samoa Airways. He also remarked it’s a great opportunity to challenge Air New Zealand on the route.
Auckland Airport CEO, Adrian Littlewood, said Samoa Airways was the 31st international airline to operate at the airport. “Connecting Samoa and Auckland, in particular, means a lot for our neighbors in the community and staff,” he said
Samoa Airways Chairman, Fe’esago Siaosi Fepulea’i, made a call to Samoans around the world to support the country’s new national airline fully. “It belongs to Samoa,” he concluded.