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Polynesian Airlines to start International Flights

Polynesian Airlines starts its international flights from Apia to Auckland next month.

When that happens, it will be the first time in ten years that the airline flies internationally.

Long term, there are plans for Tonga, Brisbane and Sydney, Australia. The man behind the plan is Polynesian Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Seiuli Alvin Tuala.

During an interview with the Sunday Samoan, Tuala was adamant the Airline will not go through the same financial demise it has been associated with in the past. “These decisions are not made by just one person,” he said.

“It’s made at the Board level and then up to Cabinet. We’ve really looked at it closely. We’re not going to do anything that’s going to drive the company broke and we’re really looking closely at that and the viability of going with it and how we can sustain it.”

Tuala told the Sunday Samoan that strategies were now in place to minimize the risks, which put the company in the red in the past. The issuing of free tickets, as well as cargo being flown despite not having been paid for, had caused issues then, he said.

“All of those things have been eliminated. There are going to be no free tickets. There are going to be no upgrades and none of the things that we had in the past. You’ve got to control that."

“You’ve got to be quite strong and be able to tell people in government or whoever, I’m sorry, but you pay like everyone else. If you don’t pay, you don’t get on.” Although he admitted it would be hard for staff to say no, policies and procedures were in place to ensure the rules could not be broken.

Cash payments were required to get a receipt, which came with numbers that had to be entered into a computer system to issue a ticket.

“As you know, in the past, we’ve had a lot of problems…and of course with the cynics, there are always going to be cynics but that can’t be helped.”

He wanted to make international flights a reality, in a way that was sustainable for the country, the government and shareholders.

The jet will be code shared with Solomon Airlines and flown by two local pilots, Dean Sefo and Su’a Vincent Mene.

They trained on an intensive course in New Zealand to qualify to fly the A-320 aircraft. The crew come from Solomon Airlines and will gradually include Samoans.

Meanwhile, Polynesian Airlines is also looking into other ventures, such as code sharing with Fiji Airways and others.

“It’s not easy. There’s so much work but we’ve got a very good team, a very experienced team, [who have] been around a long time so they know what’s needed.

They’re very familiar with what needs to be done,” Tuala said.

It was expected competing airlines’ fares to New Zealand would be readjusted, to become cheaper.

“I don’t know how much by but they’ll be having people looking into how much their break even will be and how much they can drop their airfares by to try and kill competition. Just normal airline business, as long as it’s not predatory pricing. It’s going to be a competition."

“We’re just out there to try and offer a service to the people, another option. Hopefully give them some competitive fares. We’re really looking forward to getting it done, up and running.”

Tuala believed the service’s availability was timely for Samoa, as the country had waited a long time to have its own aircraft flying to Auckland.

“If we can do Auckland, Apia, Sydney and Brisbane, we’re happy.

I think that’s basically the four routes that we stick to. Don’t try to expand too much into anything that can’t happen.”

Planning for the launch of the new flight had been stressful due to high expectations, but Seiulu said his team was strong.

“It doesn’t matter who sits in this chair, if you don’t have the people that are backing you up, you’d never be able to do it.”

Long term, Polynesian Airlines will have its own aircraft.

“We’re ready to get our own aircraft but the good thing with Solomon Airlines is we’re wanting to keep those partnerships, helping each other. If we have an aircraft and they have one, if something happens, we have a back up aircraft. Kiribati is also joining into the partnership so we’re helping ourselves outside of the big carriers such as Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways, Qantas  

Source: PACNews  

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