Samoa Airways will begin services to Auckland next week after its owner, the Samoan government, had a messy bust-up with Virgin Australia which used to fly the route.
The new airline will fly six times a week between Apia and Auckland from next Tuesday, stepping up to daily from December 17, reports NZ Herald.
Samoa Airways is using a Boeing 737-800 leased from Icelandair Group with 170 seats, including eight in business class.
Last month the Samoan government refused an application by Virgin Australia to fly five times a week, affecting about 6000 passengers and causing concern in the travel industry about reduced competition on the route.
Virgin’s twice-weekly return services from Sydney to Apia and weekly return service from Brisbane will go ahead as planned from November 13, but it has said it was surprised at the end of its 12-year-old deal with the Samoan government to fly to New Zealand.
Marketing and communication specialist for Samoa Airways, Dwayne Bentley, said he couldn’t comment on the dispute with Virgin Australia.