9 Feb 2009

NZ government to subsidise Air New Zealand flight from Samoa and Tonga to L.A

6:36 am on 9 February 2009

Samoa's Prime Minister has confirmed that the New Zealand Government has agreed to subsidise losses for one year, on Air New Zealand's Apia to Los Angeles weekly flight.

An agreement to that effect was signed between the Government of Samoa and Air New Zealand last week.

Samoa made the request to the NZ government last year while Helen Clark was the prime minister.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told the Samoa Observer he discussed the matter with New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, during the recent special Pacific Islands Forum meeting, in Papua New Guinea.

The agreement gives one further year of life to Air New Zealand's Los Angeles to Apia-Tonga and Auckland weekly flight.

Tuilaepa says this link to the United States is "very important" to the tourism industries of Samoa and Tonga.

Tonga's Prime minister, Dr Feleti Sevele was also present at the meeting with the John Key.

Late last year, Air New Zealand asked both countries to provide a subsidy of 2.5 million US dollars each to keep the service going.

Both countries objected.