Inter-Samoa Air Route Fare War Begins

New competing carriers brings lower prices

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, August 23, 2016) – The Samoa government owned Polynesian Airlines is challenging its new competitor — Talofa Airways — head on, with lower round trip fares, which the airlines claims it began selling last week, while also defending its Twin Otter fleet operating the inter Samoa route, as “comfortable and bigger plane[s]” preferred by travelers.

“We welcome competition,” declared Polynesian’s chief executive officer Seiuli Alvin Tuala in a media release yesterday. “Competition is good for everyone as it means cheaper fares for the traveling public and improved services from the airlines involved and this will only serve to benefit the economies of the two Samoas.”

According to Seiuli, the airline has been selling their “sale fare” since last week and its round trip fare of $150 between Pago Pago and Fagali’i Airport in Samoa ($380.00 Samoa tala — Fagali’i- Pago- Fagali’i).

Privately owned Samoa-based Talofa Airways Ltd., will begin inter Samoa flights next week Monday (Aug. 29th in Pago Pago and Aug. 30th in Apia) providing six daily flights using its two nine-passenger-seater planes.

In preparation for its inter Samoa flights, Talofa Airways has launched a media campaign offering “promotional return airfares” of $157.05 between Pago Pago and Fagali’i for adult ($380.00 Samoa Tala) for specific dates of travel. (See advertisement in Samoa News).

And it appears that Polynesian takes issue with Talofa Airways promoting that it’s flights takes only 20 minutes between Pago Pago and Fagali’i. Seiuli is quoted in the Polynesian media release saying that this is not a major concern to them.

Seiuli said the airline’s Twin Otter planes take only a 30-minute plane ride between the two airports and the “majority of our people prefer to travel in a comfortable and bigger plane.”

Additionally, the Twin Otter aircrafts have been in operation on the Pago route for years starting from the late 1980s.

“The Twin Otter aircraft is world renowned for its safety record and versatility and these STOL — short take off and landing — type of aircraft are ideally suited for short runways like Fagali’i Airport,” he said.

Talofa Airways president and owner Toleafoa Jeffrey Hunter told Samoa News over the weekend that the airline’s planes can carry a little over 2,000 pounds and one passenger is eligible to carry over 45 pounds worth of luggage. (See Samoa News edition — Business Beat — yesterday for details.)

In the Poly Air news release, Seiuli said he and his team have been working on a lot of areas to improve the airline’s service to the traveling public — but he didn’t elaborate on the areas of improvements.

He did say that Polynesian offers “different sale fares” between the two Samoas and “we are working very hard to improve the reliability of our service with our aircraft fleet of three Twin Otters.”

(Samoa News points out that these different fares have lead to many local complaints to lawmakers especially last minute travelers, who end up getting a higher fare.)

“In the airline industry, improving and maintaining service levels at a very high standard is always a work in progress for everyone and we are committed to providing this for our customers,” he said.

Talofa Airways yesterday officially opened at the Tafuna airport its office, which is right next to Polynesian.

The Samoa News
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