The Chief Executive Officer of Samoa Airways, Seiuli Alvin Tuala, has re-directed questions about the cost of leasing the aircraft to Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.
He did this when the Samoa Observer followed up an email with questions submitted last week on reports the Airline is paying US$500,000 (T$1.25 million) a fortnight to lease the B767-300 from Icelandic Air.
When Seiuli was contacted, he did not wish to comment. He said it would be best to ask the Prime Minister.
This contradicted what the Prime Minister told the Samoa Observer last week when he was asked about the same issue.
“To get the exact amount down to the cents, direct your questions to the C.E.O. of Samoa Airways,” Tuilaepa said last Thursday. “That shouldn’t be hard to do.”
Tuilaepa then asked why the Samoa Observer was interested in the cost of the lease.
“Your questions appear to be looking for trouble,” he said.
“However if you ask, then do a follow up question, what is the usual amount of such leases, that is how you do it. But don’t just ask about our lease.”
The Samoa Observer had sent questions to Seiuli and the Airline’s Marketing Manager, Dwayne Bentley, last week Thursday.
A printed copy of the questions was also dropped off at the Samoa Airways office. It reads:
Trust you’re well. My name is Ilia from the Samoa Observer. I write to ask a couple of questions.
I’ve been told that the airline is paying US$500,000 to lease the aircraft a fortnight.
Is this true? If it is, can the airline sustain this in the long run?
What are you projections in terms of profits and losses?
Also in relation to the Iceland crew, how long will they be here for? And who is paying for them to be here in terms of accommodation and other allowances to provide training? How much?
From the first few weeks of operations, how have the numbers been in terms of passengers on flights?
Anything else you would like to add?”
On Saturday morning, the Samoa Observer contacted Dwayne Bentley requesting for an interview. He said he was not available.
Yesterday, the Ministry of the Cabinet and Prime Minister’s Press Secretary cancelled this week’s media session with the P.M.
“The P.M. is away on official travel for the 3rd Korea-Pacific Islands Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Seoul (Korea) from 4-7th of December,” the Press Secretary said.
He is scheduled to be back on the weekend.