11 Nov 2010

Samoa's PM criticises Air New Zealand

11:13 am on 11 November 2010

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has criticised Air New Zealand saying its termination of the Tonga-Samoa-L.A. service was its agenda all along.

He accused the airline of bullying Samoa and Tonga into subsidising losses from the route labeling these moves ridiculous.

Tuilaepa told the Samoa Observer the airline was acting purely for its own self interest and unwilling to commit to developing the route.

Air NZ's Pacific Manager, Peter Walsh, claimed the cancellation of the flight was a direct action by the Tongan government.

However Tuilaepa disputes this, saying the decision by Air New Zealand was made a long time ago.

Earlier Air NZ had rejected claims it repositioned its aircraft before the decision to terminate was made.

Tuilaepa, however, says it was always their intention to withdraw this route and use their long-haul flight to bring tourists to Auckland.

Possible routes to Samoa after the Air NZ flight is terminated is through Australia, New Zealand and possibly Asia via Fiji.

Another option is Honolulu.