Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and the Minister of Public Enterprises Lautafi Fio Purcell both rejected claims the government is trying to restrict Air New Zealand‘s movements on the Samoa-Auckland route to provide an advantage to Samoa Airways (Samoa Observer/Sunday Samoan, 27-Jan-2018). “The government does not get involved in the operation of the Air New Zealand. We have nothing to do with that”, Mr Lautafi said, adding: “The only Airline the government has denied their request to fly the New Zealand and Samoa route is Virgin Australia. That’s it!”. He added: “That is because under the joint venture, they were allowed and now the joint venture is finished, they can’t fly from New Zealand to Samoa and vice versa anymore. But in respect to Air New Zealand, let me be clear that the government does not dictate how things are done within Air New Zealand”. He also rejected claims the government is pressuring Air New Zealand to deploy only Airbus aircraft on services to Samoa. “Any operational plans by Air New Zealand that is their call, we have not made such a request. It’s up to them as to what type of airplanes to use. The government has nothing to do with that, unless I am not made aware of such a request. That is what I know”, Mr Lautafi said. The Prime Minister added: “Why would the government step into the operation of Air New Zealand? The government does not have that type of authority and I know those decisions are made on commercial merits”.