Samoa Airways takes off

AUSTRALIAN travellers flying to Samoa have a new option, with Samoa Airways making its debut in November.

The new national airline got off to a flying start, diving headfirst into the busy December period, and has since been focusing on ensuring its twice-weekly flights out of Sydney and six-weekly Auckland flights are meeting its travellers’ needs.

Samoa Airways marketing and communications specialist Dwayne Bentley said the response from the Australian market had been very positive.

“We started selling in September and so the feedback that came through was that our fares were very competitive. When we launched and people started flying, feedback came through about our product — our fares are all-inclusive with cabin bag, checked baggage, hot meal, beverage selection and inflight entertainment — so it has been pretty positive,” he said.

Samoa Airways faces competition from Virgin Australia, which flies to Apia from Brisbane and Sydney, but Bentley said Samoa Airways’ product was quite different.

“We’re a Samoan airline, we offer Samoan hospitality and that’s a very unique point of difference that’s really important to us,” he said. “When people step on board our aircraft from Sydney, they’ve booked a holiday to come to Samoa they can expect that experience from the moment they step on board.”

Travel agents are central to Samoa Airways’ strategy, Bentley said, highlighting GDS connections with Amadeus and Travelport due to come online in April.

Currently trade can book with the airline through its dedicated online portal or its call centres in Sydney and Auckland, but Bentley said he expected GDS capability would “really open things up for us, especially in the Australian market”.

“There’s a lot of potential for Samoa’s profile in the Australian market as a visitor destination, and that’s something that we’re very mindful of and we’ll work very closely with the Samoa Tourism Authority to make sure that we continue to work with the Australian trade to grow visitor numbers out of Australia.”