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Samoa Airway’s $2 m. “teething problems”

[SN file photo]

Apia, SAMOA — Conflicting stories have emerged from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s Government over the performance and profitability of Samoa Airways.

While the Airline’s Minister, Lautafi Fio Purcell, had abruptly rejected reports that it was already running at a “substantial” loss, the Prime Minister has taken a different position.

While he would not say whether the reports are true, Tuilaepa said the Airline is going through a “predicament” most new airlines experience when they start.

He said it is unreasonable to expect a new airline to make a profit immediately. 

“You cannot expect a new Airline to fill up the Airplane with passengers at initial stages of operation,” Tuilaepa said. 

Samoa Airways was launched last November. 

A few months into its operations, sources told the Sunday Samoan the losses are mounting and they are significant.

The Sunday Samoan understands that Cabinet had appointed a Special Committee comprising of senior Government officials to monitor the Airline’s performance. They are to submit a report to Cabinet on a monthly basis.

A Cabinet Minister, who asked not to be named, told the Sunday Samoan that figures given to Cabinet during one of “our meetings shows that the loss has accumulated to more than $2 million.” 

That was at the beginning of the year.

Asked if this was true, Tuilaepa was circumspect.

“Look, every new Airline goes through that same predicament,” he said. “You cannot expect a new Airline to fill up the airplane with passengers at initial stages of operation.” 

Even if there were losses, Tuilaepa said the Airline should have enough and that it would be  “covered under their budget.”