Virgin Samoa, formerly Polynesian Blue, is a Virgin Australia Holdings airline that flies between Samoa, Australia and New Zealand. It is 49% owned by the Samoan government. Polynesian Blue took over the long haul flights (those involving Australia or New Zealand) which were operated by Polynesian Airlines. On 7 December 2011, it was announced that Polynesian Blue would change its name to Virgin Samoa.
Virgin Blue Holdings signed an agreement with the Samoan government to operate a joint venture airline called Polynesian Blue. The announcement came after several months of detailed discussions between the two parties and involved the Samoan government and Virgin Blue joining forces to set up a new company to operate jet routes previously flown by Polynesian Airlines. The name Polynesian Blue was in keeping with the Virgin Blue family of brands, which also included Christchurch-based airline Pacific Blue. Its first flight was on 31 October 2005, between Apia and Auckland in New Zealand and Sydney in Australia.
Logo as Polynesian Blue
The airline is 49% owned by the Samoan Government and 49% owned by ASX-listed Virgin Australia Holdings (AX: VAH). The remaining 2% is held by an independent Samoan shareholder, the owner/operator of Aggie Grey's Resort and Hotel.
Pacific Blue Airlines changed its ICAO code from PBI to PBN to prevent air traffic controllers confusing the I for a 1 in flight plans. This also applies to Virgin Samoa flights operated by Virgin Australia. The ICAO code PLB (Callsign: Polyblue) is currently reserved for the airline but not in use.
Virgin Blue Holdings rebranded its airlines under the new Virgin Australia name in 2011, later renaming itself Virgin Australia Holdings. Polynesian Blue was rebranded Virgin Samoa and a new livery was unveiled for one of the 737-800s operated by Virgin Australia (NZ) - which features traditional Samoan tattoos on the engines, designed by Tuifa’asisina Tolouena Sua. Cabin crew uniforms were also redesigned to feature the new imagery.
Virgin Samoa does not own any of its own aircraft. All flights are operated on behalf of Virgin Samoa by Virgin Australia (NZ). One of Virgin Australia (NZ)'s 737-800 aircraft is painted in Virgin Samoa livery - ZK-PBF, named Tapu I'Tea.