The government of Vanuatu may be willing to take a discarded B737-800 off the hands of the government of the neighbouring Pacific archipelago of Samoa and its wholly-owned flag carrier Samoa Airways (OL, Apia Faleolo), the Samoa Observer has reported.

Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, prime minister of Samoa, confirmed that discussions were underway with Vanuatu over 5W-TFL (msn 42805), which the ch-aviation fleets module shows is leased from Carlyle Aviation Partners and is currently stored at Brisbane International on Australia’s eastern coast. Air Vanuatu (NF, Port Vila) already operates one other aircraft of the same type, while Samoa Airways does not.

The prime minister told the newspaper on March 7 that the two governments had “exchanged letters” in relation to the leased aircraft and that she was happy with the offer from Vanuatu. However, “we still have to resolve the issue between ourselves and the lessor,” she cautioned.

Last summer, Samoa’s new government decided soon after taking office that the lease agreement on the aircraft, signed by the previous administration, was unsustainable and it questioned its recent arrival. A cabinet committee had recommended the immediate cessation of the contract with the Irish lessor but added that this may cost the government WST180 million tala (USD68.8 million) for breach of contract. Samoa Airways had taken delivery of its first narrowbody in July.

On taking up the case, the Lithuanian law firm Averus advised the government that, as guarantor, it was financially liable for the lease and was at risk of having to cover the eight-year contract for up to USD20 million if the carrier was not able to pay itself.