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Virgin Blue And Samoan Government Announce Joint Venture Airline

14/07/2005

"Polynesian Blue" To Fly The South Pacific Skies From Late October

Australia ’s award winning low cost carrier, Virgin Blue has signed an agreement with the Samoan Government to operate a joint venture airline called “Polynesian Blue”.


The announcement comes after months of detailed discussions between the two parties and involves the Samoan Government and Virgin Blue joining forces to set up a new company that will operate jet routes presently flown by Polynesian Airlines from late October 2005. Polynesian Airlines will continue to operate its existing successful turboprop aircraft and ground handling divisions.


Polynesian Blue will be 49% owned by the Samoan Government, 49% owned by Virgin Blue and the remaining 2% will be held by an independent Samoan shareholder.


The airline will operate flights from Samoa to Australia and New Zealand using state-of-the-art Boeing 737-800 aircraft and will offer the value for money fares and award winning service for which Virgin Blue and Pacific Blue have become famous. The aircraft will have its own Polynesian Blue livery; featuring a red body and a palm tree on the tail along with the familiar Virgin Blue “boomerang” (see aircraft livery graphic on www.polynesianblue.com).


Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey said, “This is an exciting project for Virgin Blue and we are very happy to be partnering with the Samoan Government to offer a viable and affordable airline option to both the people of Samoa as well as the thousands of tourists who will visit the beautiful islands.”


The Hon Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa added, “Virgin Blue began the low fare revolution in this region and has become a key player in the market. We want to ensure that Samoa has competitive air services and participates fully in the growing tourism market to the Pacific Islands. Virgin Blue has understood this from day one and is clearly the best partner for our Government and our people. We are very pleased to have them on board with us in this innovative joint venture.”


Brett Godfrey continued, “Virgin Blue applauds the progressive economic management of the Samoan Government in engaging in a joint venture with a partner who understands and shares its objectives.”


“Many governments in the South Pacific face similar challenges in that they are heavily reliant on air travel and tourism for their economic viability. This new venture is a first for the region and bears testimony to both the initiative and creativity of the Samoan Government as well as Virgin Blue’s demonstrated ability to grow the market in the South Pacific region, with a 50% increase in the number of people travelling to Fiji from Australia since Pacific Blue launched services there.”


He added, “Virgin Blue looks forward to working with the Samoan Government to achieve our mutual goals of growth and market stimulation.”


Polynesian Blue aircraft will be operated by New Zealand based Pacific Blue and pilots and cabin crew are being recruited from within Polynesian Airlines as well as externally.


The first Polynesian Blue flight from New Zealand to Samoa (with connections from Australia) is expected to take off in late October (subject to final Government approvals), with the carrier to start selling seats in September via www.virginblue.com.au and www.polynesianblue.com.