Government of Samoa issues statement and clarification on withdrawal of Virgin Australia licence

31 October, 2017

Samoa's Government issued (31-Oct-2017) a formal statement, responding to press statements made by Virgin Australia regarding the government's decision to decline it a licence to continue to operate Auckland-Apia service.

  • The government stated the decision should not have come as a surprise to Virgin Australia, as the previous licence was granted on the basis of the JV with the Samoan Government. That arrangement is due to be terminated on 13-Nov-2017. The Samoan Government stated it was "made clear to Virgin" that the airline is authorised to fly direct from Australia to Samoa and return; but Auckland is "no longer accessible";
  • The Samoan Government disagreed with statements by Virgin that the decision to decline the licence violates previous air service agreements given that those did not remove Samoa's sovereign rights to consider all applications made to Samoa, and the overall impact in the country. The government added that the spirit of those agreements were to "facilitate cooperation such as past codesharing with airlines like Qantas and Polynesian Airlines; not to allow for rippling economic damage to Samoa in favour of a Multinational Airline";
  • The Samoan government stated it previously made efforts to notify Virgin that they should stop selling Auckland-Apia tickets beyond the 13-Nov-2017, without the proper approvals. It noted that to date, the government has received no direct response from Virgin to those communications;
  • Efforts to contact Virgin included offers to discuss the operating licence with this carrier and this offer has not been taken up to date. Instead Samoa was approached by the Australian Government officials where it became necessary to make the decision clear to them. This decision emphasised that Virgin Australia would be approved to operate scheduled services from points in Australia to Apia and return but with the Auckland to Apia and return services not approved. The necessary approvals were issued to Virgin Australia over the past few days;
  • The Samoan government stated it hopes this direct link between Australia and Samoa will be reciprocated when the Samoa Airways application is considered. The airline is working to comply with terms of that application to fly direct from Apia to Australia. [more - original PR]