Samoa Airways (OL, Apia Faleolo) has begun hunting for a new wet-lease operator following the end of a contract with Malindo Air (OD, Kuala Lumpur Int'l), Prime Minister Sailele Malielegaoi told public broadcaster 2AP.

The Samoan carrier had, until recently, wet-leased B737-800 9M-LND (msn 38316) from the Malaysian carrier. However, as international commercial passenger flights to the Pacific island state have been banned since March 26, the Boeing jet has only been used for select repatriation flights.

Malielegaoi said the indefinite suspension of scheduled flights has therefore provided the airline with an opportunity to look for a better deal.

Samoa Airways is awaiting the delivery of its B737-9, which will allow it to end its reliance on wet-leased capacity. However, until the B737 MAX is recertified, the carrier will have to rely on ACMI operators to carry out its services from Apia Faleolo to Auckland Int'l, Sydney Kingsford Smith, and Brisbane Int'l.