Airport Chief defends travel expenses hike

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Magele Hoe Viali.

Magele Hoe Viali. (Photo: File)

Samoa Airport Authority (S.A.A.) Chief Executive Officer, Magele Hoe Viali, has strongly defended the $75,000 increase of travel expenses for the financial year 2016-2017, compared to the previous year.  

According to the S.A.A. 2016-2017 annual report, travel expenses for 2016 was $48,101 and $123,109 for 2017 - a difference of $75,008. 

“Those are all work related trips, they are not personal trips,” said Magele. 

“Are you saying the travel expenses for this year and the last year are the same? 

“No they are all different, and if it was an increase for the past financial year (2017), that is a business trip. 

“Also that report went through the Parliamentary Committee. There was no alarm, no concern. Why are you asking me about the increase of funds spent on travel when it has been approved by the Parliament?

“I’m sure the reports are in the audits and if there was a red flag, we would’ve have been told.” 

It was put to the C.E.O. the travel showed a $75,000 increase and it warrants an explanation. 

“That year, there was an International Civil Aviation held in Canada where the Minister, C.E.O. of Ministry of Works, me and an S.A.A. Technical Advisor attended and this has been ongoing for many years,” said Magele. 

“Also keep in mind that travelling to Canada is quite expensive."

In his report on the S.A.A. Annual report, Magele noted their financial year ending 30 June, 2017, saw an increase in revenues by approximately 4.04 percent compared to the previous financial year. 

“This increase in revenue was mainly due to small increases in departure tax, commission earned, interest and dividend. 

“While the increase may be considered small, it is still an achievement, considering that the previous year was an exceptional year with the hosting by Samoa of the Commonwealth Youth Games and the All Blacks verses Manu Samoa game. 

“Despite the increase in revenues, total expenses on the other hand had decreased by approximately 21.78 percent compared to the previous financial year. 

“This decrease was mainly due to the decrease in depreciation by 48.26 percent as a result of the write off of the old terminal building in the previous financial year. 

“Operating expenses on the other hand had increased by approximately 8.10 percent when compared to the previous financial year. 

“Due to the impact of the increase in revenues and the decrease in expenses, a net profit of $540,947 was realised for the financial year 2017, resulting in a net profit ratio of 3.46 percent,” said Magele. 

Furthermore, Magele noted their continued commitment to the achievement of organisational goals had yielded positive results for the S.A.A. in the financial year ending 2017. 

“We had witnessed the commencement of major upgrade works to the terminal buildings culminating in the completion of the departure terminal in Phase I in December 2016, followed by the construction of Phase II in Feb 2017. 

“The unrelenting dedication and persistence of all staff had contributed to the achievement of the S.A.A.’s other overall corporate objectives. 

“To sustain and maintain these infrastructure projects in the pursuit of its development goals, it was imperative that the S.A.A. built, retained and encouraged a committed, motivated and stable workforce. 

“To this end, the S.A.A. had invested time and resources into its people by providing specialised training, skills re-alignment and a thorough review of the organisational structure to deliver on sustainability. 

“In tandem with in-depth research and exploration of potential non-aeronautical revenue generating opportunities, the S.A.A. is confidently optimistic about its ability to achieve the Government’s strategic goals, but also becoming a quality airport services provider of national, regional and international recognition. 

“Our major developments and implementations can add impetus to collaborative efforts between the S.A.A., the tourism industry and other sectors in contributing to the growth and development of Samoa’s economy.” 

Chairman of the S.A.A. board, Va’atuitui Apete Meredith, in his remarks noted the financial year ending 2017 has been a challenging period with the continuation of major airport infrastructural works, all to help in facilitating the S.A.A. vision of being the “Hub to the Pacific” - with air transportation, tourism and trade. 

“It is anticipated that the upgrade of terminals and its associated facilities will be completed in January 2018, with work on the runway and apron planned for completion in 2019. 

“Plans are also in its final stages to construct an airport at Aleipata on the east side of the Upolu, which would aid with civil defense efforts in times of natural disasters and to help facilitate growth in tourism visitors to that part of the country. 

“Despite these major ongoing works, the S.A.A. was still able to achieve a significant gain in its financial performance for the year ended 30 June, 2017, in which it recorded an operating profit of over half a million tala compared to a loss in the previous year. 

“On behalf of the Samoa Airport Authority, I wish to thank all our business partners, travellers and especially the people of Samoa, for being patient at this time while we work on upgrading our airport facilities.”

I also wish to take this opportunity to say faafetai tele to all our stakeholders, especially the Government of Samoa as owners, for its support. I look forward to the continuation of this mutually beneficial relationship.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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