Samoa Airways (OL, Apia Faleolo) has secured wet-leased capacity ahead of the conclusion of an existing B737-800 contract with Italy's Neos (via Icelandair) at the end of this month.

The move comes after Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi confirmed earlier this week that his Cabinet had chosen to drop plans to dry-lease in a B737-9 from Air Lease Corporation given concerns about public safety. The MAX, due to be DQ-TFL (msn 43339) would have been operated by Fiji Airways (FJ, Nadi) and would have replaced the outgoing Italian B737 from April 1 onwards. The aircraft has already been painted and was awaiting delivery to the airline.

“Even though the investigation is not completed into the black box (of the Ethiopian Airlines crash), Cabinet has reached its decision to withdraw this aircraft (Boeing 737 MAX 9) and find another one that does not have this new technology (MAX) despite our men in America being trained in using this new technology but that is the decision made," he was quoted by the Samoa Observer newspaper.

Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, has since confirmed that Samoa Airways has made arrangements with Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) for an aircraft - presumably a B737-800 - to service its Australian routes – Sydney Kingsford Smith and Brisbane Int'l - while another aircraft has been sourced from another unspecified operator to ply its Auckland Int'l, New Zealand route.

Airline CEO Tupuivao Seiuli Alvin Tuala has since disclosed that the carrier is working on wet-leasing a B737-800 from Malaysia's Malindo Air (OD, Kuala Lumpur Int'l) to run its Australia and New Zealand routes. However, Samoa Airways and Malindo Air are still working with the civil aviation authorities of Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Samoa to secure the required safety and regulatory approvals, which the carriers anticipate will come through towards the end of the first week of April.

Editorial Comment: Added CEO Tuala's comments re Malindo Air contract - 30.03.2019 - 08:14 UTC