The Samoan government is preparing to launch a partnership with Fiji Airways to resurrect Samoa’s national airline.

The airline will be renamed Samoa Airways, and will use the certificate of existing turboprop carrier Polynesian Airlines. The government said Polynesian Airlines is “on the brink of entering into a mutual arrangement with Fiji Airways.” Their partnership will be formalized under an agreement that has yet to be signed. The government said it has already approved the name change to Samoa Airways.

Samoan authorities intend for the relaunched carrier to replace Virgin Samoa, which is a joint venture operated and partly owned by Virgin Australia. The Samoan government is the other major stakeholder, but has opted to end its partnership with Virgin Australia.

Many of the details regarding Samoa Airways have not been revealed, although Fiji Airways has confirmed its involvement. “We’re excited by the potential of this partnership,” the Fijian carrier said. “As we work through the details of the [agreement] in consultation with the parties involved, we’ll have more comprehensive information on the specifics of this partnership.”

The Samoan government has indicated that Fiji Airways will not hold any shares in Samoa Airways. However, the new carrier will be able to sell tickets on Fiji Airways flights serving Samoa.

Samoa Airways will operate international services from New Zealand and Australia to Samoa. The government has indicated that the airline will operate its own jet aircraft in the long term, although one option could involve lease agreements with Fiji Airways.

Polynesia Airlines currently operates a fleet of three DHC-6 300 Twin Otters. It provides short-haul flights between Samoa and American Samoa, as well as on-demand charter services to other Samoan destinations and neighboring Pacific Island countries such as Niue and Tonga. Polynesian also operates a U.S. domestic flight in American Samoa between Pago Pago and Tau, under an exemption from the U.S. Transportation Department.

The carrier has previously operated international jet services using Boeing 737s, although it was forced to shrink after running into financial problems. This prompted the Samoan government to enter into the Virgin Samoa joint venture with Virgin Australia in 2005, with the two parties each owning 49% and hotel operator Grey Investment Group holding the remaining 2%. Virgin Samoa offers scheduled flights from Apia, Samoa, to Sydney and Brisbane, Australia, and to Auckland.

The Samoan government announced in May that it intends to dissolve the Virgin Australia joint venture in November (Aviation Daily, May 23). In its latest statement, the government stressed it had “expressed disappointment with the level of service Samoa has been getting.” The government’s prospective new partner Fiji Airways is part-owned by Qantas, and its jet fleet consists of 737s and Airbus A330s.