Expensive airfares charged by Samoa Airways for Manu’a passengers versus airfares to Samoa is a burden and prompted calls on the management for the Government owned airline to reconsider.
Talanei reported that Manu’a Representative Alumamalu Filoalii Ale told officials of the only airline serving Manu’a that the people of his district are burdened with the high fares that the airline is charging.
The first term lawmaker called fares unreasonable and unfair compared to the airline’s fares for inter Samoa travel.
He was speaking yesterday at a hearing of the House Commerce Committee concerning airfares to Manu’a, which he requested.
Witnesses were the Acting Area Manager of Samoa Airways, Fiona Faasavalu Mariner, and Stanley Nansen, Operations Manager.
Mariner explained that the fares to Manu’a include fuel costs, distance and the fact that there’s no refuelling station in Manu’a. She said the cheapest seats are for those who book early and the more expensive ones are for travelers who book late.
The fares range from $102.50 one way or $215 round trip to Ofu and $107.50 one way and $215 to Ta’u. The highest fare for both destinations is $132 one way. These fares went into effect in August 2020, Before that the fares were $86 one way to Ofu and $91 one way to Ta’u.
Meanwhile a trip to Samoa is $117 to $132 one way.
According to Mariner, it is difficult to plan flights to Manu’a because people don’t book ahead but travel on the fly.
She said an operational cost that is included in the fares is the lack of a refueling station in Manu’a which means the plane has to carry a full fuel load to cover the round trip.
Rep Alumamalu said the people of his district are crying out for help because they can’t afford the expensive fares the airline is charging,
He refused to accept Mariner’s explanation about the lack of a refueling station in Manu’a contributing to the costs of flights to Manu’a. He declared, “You knew that when you started flying to Manu’a there’s no refueling station in Manu’a, just like other airlines who serviced Manu’a before you. It’s not fair that you’re passing that cost to us.”
The Manu’a lawmaker said he’s been on a Flight that took just 30 minutes to Manu’a so he doesn’t buy that fares to Manu’a are more expensive than those to Samoa.
He asked the airline officials how much they collect in tips, Nansen said he couldn’t answer. Alumamalu quipped, “I know it’s quite a lot because I’ve seen it,
He said the two are not responsible for the high fares but he asked that they convey his comments to the airline bosses.