The government of Samoa has agreed to pay WST16 million tala (USD5.9 million) to FLY Aircraft Holdings Eighteen Ltd, an SPV for Carlyle Aviation Partners, for the cancellation of a B737-800 dry lease for Samoa Airways (OL, Apia Faleolo), Minister of Public Enterprises Leatinu’u Wayne So’oialo told the Samoan parliament.
CH Aviation says Leatinu’u underlined the lessor initially demanded WST160 million (USD59 million), but the government managed to negotiate a settlement down to just 10% of the initial ask.
2-WTFL (msn 42805) was signed as Samoa Airways’ first in-house narrowbody aircraft by the previous government in mid-2021. The current administration then vowed to review the deal immediately after taking power and shortly thereafter declared that Samoa Airways would not be adding the B737 due to high induction and operating costs. The jet was delivered to Brisbane Int’l for final maintenance in July 2021 and was registered in Samoa but never arrived at Apia Faleolo. It was ultimately deregistered in March 2022 and ferried back to Montpellier for storage.
The parliament approved a WST6 million (USD2.2 million) subsidy to the airline to cover its loss this financial year.
Leatinu’u also outlined the government’s plans to audit and turn around the loss-making flag carrier. The state appointed a new interim board of the airline, comprising Tupuola Koki Tuala, Fauo’o Fatu Tielu, and Taimalie Charlie Ah Liki. Leatinu’u also indicated that Samoa Airways’ financial accounts had not been properly audited since 2009.
The minister rebuked the opposition’s criticism that the lack of Samoa Airways’ own narrowbody capacity had lead to foreign airlines exploiting the market through higher fares. Leatinu’u emphasised that the government was committed to making Samoa Airways financially sustainable rather than using it to undercut larger airlines. He indicated that Samoa Airways would launch its own international routes going forward but did not commit to a timeline.
The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that the airline operates three DHC-6-300s deployed domestically and to American Samoa. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it wet-leased B737-800s under long-term deals with Neos Air (NO, Milan Malpensa) and later Malindo Air (OD, Kuala Lumpur Int’l).