The Samoa Airways sales office will remain open to the public despite criticisms that the national airline was undercutting airfares.
Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, gave this assurance in response to concerns that the practice did not sit well with private-owned travel agencies.
“Closing down the Samoa Airways ticket is not the right solution, however the tension between the travel agents and our airline has been sorted. And the proposed solution was to close down the Samoa Airways ticket office and allow the travel agencies to sell the airline tickets,” Lautafi said in an interview with Samoa Observer.
“The problem was that Samoa Airways employees were in fact competing with the travel agencies and we have sorted that out. The airline needs the assistance from the travel agencies and vice versa. The main point we are trying to get across is working together.”
As an example of the different airfares offered by the national airline and private travel agents, the Minister said the Samoa Airways sales office would quote an airfare of over $600 with travel agents charging over $300 extra for the same sector.
“And so this did not sit well with the travel agencies, who felt the Samoa Airways was undercutting the airfares, but that is not the case. We don’t add any additional fees, which was not a viable move. The Samoa Airways should charge necessary fees,” he added.
Travel agents have the option of not selling Samoa Airways tickets, but Lautafi said this is not a viable option as they wanted both the national airline and private-owned travel agents to work together.
“The travel agencies can opt not to sell the Samoa Airways tickets but that will not help our cause and in the end, the point we are trying to make here is the importance of working together. So far I have not heard of any more complaints from the private sector and I have an open door policy for the travel agencies.”
Samoa Airways’ use of the Amadeus distribution system is also a step in the right direction with Lautafi saying it is using that system to expand its sales. The Travelport and Sabre systems will also enable travellers to tap into and consider the routes that the national airline is currently servicing.
“We’re heading in the right direction and issues that arose between the Samoa Airways and the travel agencies should not occur,” he added.