Samoa Airways is close to finalising arrangements with full-service Malaysian carrier Malindo Air to lease a Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft, to operate its flights between Apia, Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane.
‘The 737-800NG is the same aircraft type that our Italian operator, NEOS used for Samoa Airways flights from November 2017. It is has a proven record and is operated by many airlines around the world’, stated Samoa Airways’ CEO Tupuivao Seiuli Alvin Tuala.
The Malindo Air 737-800NG aircraft is 3 years old and features 150 Economy Class seats with personal TVs, and 12 seats in Business Class with a generous 45-inch pitch, leg-rest and adjustable footrest, an 11.1-inch touchscreen inflight entertainment monitor, as well as AC and dual USB ports.
Malindo Air operates more than 800 weekly flights across South East Asia as well as Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia where it’s a registered foreign air operator with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). The carrier is a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and successfully completed IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) certification in 2016 and 2018.
The lease comes after the existing arrangement with Italian airline NEOS ends on 31st March.
Seiuli said they have been working hard to secure a replacement aircraft. “Our lease with NEOS couldn’t be extended and with the global grounding of the MAX 8 aircraft, there is a huge worldwide shortage of narrow-body aircraft as airlines scramble to consolidate their schedules using their existing fleets and short-term leases from other operators”, he said.
The National Carrier and Malindo Air are working closely 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.
“Safety is of paramount importance to us and until the clearances have been obtained, we have unfortunately had to cancel some of our flights in the first week of April and re-route our customers on to other airlines operating into Samoa to minimise any further disruption to their travel plans”, said Seiuli.
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused and our team is contacting affected customers and our trade partners, to inform them about alternative arrangements as we transition to operating with the replacement aircraft”, added Seiuli.