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Virgin Australia seeks Samoa rights

Virgin Australia has signaled that it will mount its own services to Samoa following the end of its Virgin Samoa joint venture with the Samoan government in November.

The carrier has applied to Australia's International Air Services Commission for an allocation of 880 weekly seats on the Samoa route, which will allow it to launch five-times weekly services from Australia using 176-seat Boeing 737-800s.

Its filing with the Commission shows that it is seeking the allocation for five years, and will be fully utilised by 13 November.

FlightGlobal schedules show that Virgin Samoa is presently the only carrier to fly between Samoa and Australia, operating thrice-weekly Apia-Samoa services, and a weekly Apia-Brisbane service. It also flies a daily Auckland-Apia service.

The application comes after the Samoan government signaled that it will launch a new carrier, Samoa Airways, to replace Virgin Samoa on routes to Australia and New Zealand.

Apia recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Fiji Airways, and while few details of the agreement have been released, it appears likely that the Fijian carrier will wet-lease a 737 to Samoa Airways.

Fiji Airways says it is "excited by the potential of this partnership", and that further details will be released at a later time.

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