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Fiji Airways to help launch new Samoan carrier

Fiji Airways has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Samoan government that is expected to lead to the launch of a carrier to replace Virgin Samoa later this year.

A statement issued by the Samoan prime minister's office on 6 July says that the new carrier will be named Samoa Airways. It is expected to wet-lease aircraft from Fiji Airways to fly to Australia and New Zealand.

Further details of the agreement were not disclosed, with the office citing confidentiality arrangements in the agreement.

Fiji Airways did not respond to requests for comment from FlightGlobal.

The Fijian carrier presently operates services from Apia to Suva, Nadi and Honlulu, FlightGlobal schedules show.

Samoa Airways is likely to take over from Virgin Samoa on services from Apia to Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland.

The joint venture between Virgin Australia and the Samoan government is set to conclude on 12 November, and follows tensions between the two parties in recent years, particularly over pricing of airfares to Samoa. Both parties hold a 49% stake in the carrier, with the remainder held by a Samoan hotel group.

Virgin Samoa wet-leases Boeing 737-800s to fly its services from Virgin Australia.

The Australian carrier says that it is reviewing its options for the routes to Apia after November, but wouldn't comment on the agreement between the Samoan government and Fiji Airways.

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