Virgin Samoa

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Virgin Samoa.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
VA VOZ VELOCITY
Founded October 2005
(as Polynesian Blue)
Ceased operations 12 November 2017
Operating bases Faleolo International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Velocity Frequent Flyer
Fleet size 1
Destinations 4
Parent company Virgin Australia Holdings (49%)
Government of Samoa (49%)
Grey Investment Group (2%)
Headquarters Bowen Hills, Brisbane, Australia
Key people Mark Pitt, CEO
Website www.virginaustralia.com/samoa

Virgin Samoa, formerly Polynesian Blue, is the flag carrier of Samoa.[1] It is owned by Virgin Australia Holdings (49%), the Government of Samoa (49%) and Grey Investment Group (2%). Polynesian Blue took over the long haul flights (those involving Australia or New Zealand) which were operated by Polynesian Airlines. In December 2011 Polynesian Blue was renamed Virgin Samoa. It ceased operations on 12 November 2017.

History[edit]

Polynesian Blue logo

In 2005 Virgin Blue Holdings signed an agreement with the Government of Samoa to operate a joint venture airline. 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 adopted in keeping with the Virgin Blue family of brands, which also included Christchurch based Pacific Blue Airlines. Its first flight was on 31 October 2005, between Apia, Auckland and Sydney.

The airline is owned by Virgin Australia Holdings (49%), the Government of Samoa (49%) and Grey Investment Group (2%).[2][3]

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.[4] Polynesian Blue was rebranded Virgin Samoa and a new livery was unveiled for one of the Boeing 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.[5]

In 2015 Virgin Australia decided to relinquish its New Zealand Air Operators Certificate with all New Zealand registered aircraft, including the Virgin Samoa branded aircraft, transferred to the Australian register.[6]

In May 2017, the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, wrote to Virgin Australia advising of the government’s intention to withdraw from the joint venture.[7] This followed two years of the government's unhappiness that Samoan customers and government were not obtaining enough of the benefits from the joint venture.[8] Virgin Australia later confirmed that services would cease on 12 November 2017.[3][9] The government proposes Polynesian Airlines resume operating long distance flights[10] while Virgin Australia commenced operating services to Samoa on 13 November 2017 in its own right.[11]

Destinations[edit]

Pacific Blue Airlines' Polynesian Blue liveried Boeing 737-800 (ZK-PBF, Tapu'itea) at Bauerfield Airport, Port Vila in June 2009

Before its cessation on 12 November 2017, Virgin Samoa operates scheduled passenger flights to the following destinations:

Country City Airport Refs
Australia Brisbane Brisbane Airport
Australia Sydney Sydney Airport
New Zealand Auckland Auckland Airport
Samoa Apia Faleolo Airport

Onboard services[edit]

Virgin Samoa offered a buy on board service offering food and drinks for purchase.

Fleet[edit]

Virgin Samoa Boeing 737 in the current livery

Virgin Samoa did not own any of its own aircraft. All flights were operated on behalf of Virgin Samoa by Virgin Australia International Airlines. One of Virgin Australia's Boeing 737-800 aircraft was painted in Virgin Samoa livery and named Tapu I'Tea.[12]

Aircraft In Fleet Orders J Y
Boeing 737-800 1 0 8[13] 168

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Virgin Samoa Is Now The New National Airline Of Samoa". 7 December 2011. Archived from the original on 14 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Virgin Blue picks up Samoa flights CNN 14 July 2005
  3. ^ a b End to Virgin Samoa deal puts non-stop trips in doubt Sydney Morning Herald 25 May 2017
  4. ^ "Virgin Australia rebrands its Pacific carriers". NZ Herald. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  5. ^ Mike Gisick (7 December 2011). "Polynesian Blue to become Virgin Samoa". Australian Aviation. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Virgin completes transfer of NZ 737s onto Australian AOC". Australian Aviation. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  7. ^ Govt drops Virgin Samoa Observer 18 May 2017
  8. ^ PM defends axing of Virgin Samoa Observer 19 May 2017
  9. ^ Virgin Australia mulling over next step in Samoa Radio New Zealand 23 May 2017
  10. ^ Samoa poised to end joint venture with Virgin Radio New Zealand 16 May 2017
  11. ^ Virgin Australia confirms plans to fly to Australia Virgin Australia 1 September 2017
  12. ^ "VH-YID. Boeing 737-8FE. c/n 38709-3851". Aussie Airliners. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "VH-YID. Boeing 737-8FE. c/n 38709-3851". Aussie Airliners. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Virgin Samoa at Wikimedia Commons