Fauoo Fatu Tielu appointed as Interim Managing Director of Samoa Airways, replaces Seiuli

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Effective 7 July, 2022 Fauoo Fatu Tielu has been appointed as Interim Managing Director of Samoa Airways. He replaces Chief Executive Officer, Seiuli Alvin Tuala whose contract has ended. 

The appointment was confirmed by Minister of Public Enterprises, Leatinuu Wayne So’oialo in response to questions from Radio Polynesia over the weekend.

“Fauoo Fatu Tielu, has been appointed by Cabinet on the advice of the Interim Board to be the interim Managing Director of the Company effective on the 7th July 2022,” said the Minister.  

Regarding the appointment of the Interim Board by the Cabinet, Leatinuu said the replacing of the Airline’s Board to continue a 360-degree review of what Samoa Airways needs in terms of jet services into and out of Apia, and whether the airline has a role to play in supplying those services.

“For that reason, I have sought the advice of a small group of respected businessmen to brainstorm the options available to us in order to ensure frequency, reasonable fares, and access to flights to and from NZ, Australia, Fiji, and elsewhere,” said Leatinu’u.

Last month Cabinet replaced the Samoa Airways board Muagututi’a Lafaele Ngau Chun, Papalii Sonya Hunt and Tuia Paepae Letoa and appointed an interim board, with Tupuola Koki Tuala as interim Chairman. The other members are businessman, Taimalie Charlie Ah Liki and Fatu Tielu.  

Muagututi’a said StarFM, they were not given any official reasons for their dismissal and there were repeated efforts to meet with Minister of the Airline, Leatinu’u Wayne So’oialo but were unsuccessful.

 The Minister said the interim Management Board met with the airline staff on Saturday.

 “Today (Saturday) I officially introduced the Interim Management Board to the staff of Samoa Airways. “We had a fruitful meeting with the Interim Management Board and staff of Samoa Airways on the issues and the challenges they faced in the airline industry.

“Most importantly, we also acknowledge that despite the challenges it faced as a result of Covid19.

“And decisions of previous management and administration, the Company should look at all possible avenues and secure alternative partnerships to enhance airline services not only for our people but for trade.”

Adding this is a new approach to the issues they have in the aviation market.

“And so I have invited those individuals (Interim Management Board) to assist me in preparing a new path for the airline and they have accepted the challenge.” 

The Minister concluded that future inquiries are to be directed to Fauo’o. Meanwhile, emails to Seiuli for comments were not answered as of press time.

Last year the Latu Lawyer firm issued a legal review of Samoa Airways and cited they allegedly “breached the solvency requirements of the Companies Act 2001, which attract both civil and criminal sanctions.”

The legal review, endorsed by Taulapapa Brenda Latu found that Samoa Airways accumulated debt up to $80 million.

This placed the Airline in a highly distressed financial position which on any assessment reflects a company that is technically insolvent as it is ‘unable to pay its debts as they fall due.

The legal opinion says the Samoa Airways Board of Directors approved the Lease and it would also appear to be individually breaching statutory directors’ duties under the same Act by failing to properly inform the shareholder of its financial position and continuing to trade whilst insolvent.