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Poly to argue keeping control of Fagali’i

Polynesian Airlines won’t surrender ownership of Fagali’i International Airport without a word.The state-owned airline loathes seeing Fagali’i yanked from its grip after it had worked to revive and shape the airport to its purposes.Cabinet has appointed a committee to consider a transfer of the airport to Samoa Airport Authority (SAA).“One of the requests from Polynesian to the committee is to wait until our Board of Directors has met with the Prime Minister to present our request to keep Fagali’i under Polynesian Airlines’ control because of a number of reasons,” said Chief Executive Officer, Taua Fatu Tielu.Taua declined to state what those reasons are.“I have a list of reasons … but I think it would be unreasonable for me to release them before our board’s meeting with the PM and also given the tasks of the Cabinet appointed committee which is not yet concluded,” he said.Located five kilometres from the capital Apia, Fagali’i airport was originally run by SAA for flights between American Samoa and Samoa – though Polynesian owned the land the airstrip was on.Then in 2005 SAA cited safety reasons and closed the airport.It was controversial.Amongst other reasons it required passengers to endure a 30-minute drive to and from Faleolo International Airport and businesses supported by Fagali’i airport traffic predicted they would suffer, which proved correct.In 2005 Polynesian was shed of it’s jets and left with flights to American Samoa it’s main source of income, a route where two rivals with bigger aircraft also hunted.To survive the airline mowed the grass at Fagali’i airport and re-opened it.Taua didn’t buy into the argument that Fagali’i was unsafe, insisting that the reason for SAA’s 2005 closure was avoidance of duplication of costs incurred in running Faleolo airport as well Fagali’i for flights to American Samoa.“The re-opening and operating of Fagali’i Airport since July 2009 by the company itself was one of the best decisions we made in maintaining the company’s financial viability,” Taua said last month.