Samoa Airways (OL, Apia Faleolo) needs a further WST6 million tala (USD2.3 million) to complete the necessary airworthiness certification of its first in-house B737-800, Minister for Public Enterprises Leatinuu Wayne Sooialo told TV1 Samoa.

5W-TFL (msn 42805) was leased from Carlyle Aviation Partners by the previous Samoan government to allow the flag carrier to restart medium-haul operations without the need for costly wet-leases, as was the case before the COVID-19 pandemic. The aircraft was ferried from storage and maintenance at Woensdrecht to Brisbane International over the course of July 21-25, 2021. The then authorities said that it would undergo brief maintenance at the Australian airport and subsequently be ferried to Apia Faleolo for two-week training, ahead of its induction into service planned for late summer.

However, the plans never materialised, and the aircraft remains in storage at Brisbane airport. The new government, which was sworn in in late July 2021, pledged to review the lease given concerns about its financial soundness.

Leatinuu told opposition lawmakers - i.e. the former government - that the jet cannot be used for repatriation flights until properly certified. He did not provide any timeline as to when Samoa Airways would induct the B737-800.

As Samoa's borders remain closed to nearly all travellers, the flag carrier does not currently operate any medium-haul flights. It deploys its three DHC-6-300s on a 2x weekly domestic route from Apia to Maota Savai'i Island and on domestic routes within American Samoa, connecting Pago Pago with Ofu and Fitiuta.