Samoa has moved a step further to becoming the aviation hub of the South Pacific.
The new and improved Faleolo International Airport was officially declared open yesterday in a grand ceremony.
The opening was attended by the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Cabinet Ministers, members of the diplomatic corp and local business community.
Tuilaepa said Samoa can be proud of its modern international airport, giving his thanks and appreciation to the Government of People’s Republic of China for funding the airport upgrade project.
He said the upgrade befitted that of a modern international airport and it would mean more business space for tourism-related services which would improve visitor experience.
The Prime Minister said the quality and scale of the project undertaken was in line with the government’s vision to create something that would serve Samoa well into 50 years.
“As envisioned by Government, these new terminal buildings will assist tourism growth in our country, in addition to boosting economic development through air transport facilitation and trade," he said.
“For those who will be using these new airport buildings, its longevity can only be assured through appropriate usage, care and maintenance. It is your Government’s hope that this upgrade project will meet our country’s airport needs for the next 50 years.”
In his remarks, Ambassador Wang Xuefeng of China expressed his appreciation to those who worked to ensure the completion of the airport upgrade.
“Today (yesterday) we witness with our own eyes the completion of the grand new project of the new international airport with the unique Polynesia style. We can’t help marveling at the miracle that was achieved in two years. I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation and admiration to all those who have made this miracle possible."
“On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the successful completion of this new airport."
“The new Faleolo International Airport has become the best international airport in all the Pacific Island countries. With the upgraded services, excellent operation capability and aviation management, Samoa has moved a step further toward the aviation hub in the South Pacific region.”
The Ambassador of China retold a story about a Chinese tourist who told him that he was impressed by the unique Samoan design of Faleolo International Airport.
“He was totally awed by the beautiful Faleolo airport upon his arrival in Samoa and he said ‘I have a complete new impression about Samoa at the first sight of this modern and beautiful airport which brings a very pleasant feeling to my trip to Samoa’.
“The new Faleolo International Airport has become Samoa’s gateway to the world and a brand new landmark of the paradise island – the beautiful Samoa.”
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony; government officials, dignitaries and guests were invited to take a tour of the upgraded airport facilities. Guests had the opportunity to breeze through customs and departure lounge uninterrupted as well as check out the duty free and gift variety stores that were open for the occasion.
The total cost for the project was approximately $147 million tala with the construction undertaken by Shanghai Construction Group.
The project commenced in December 2015 and was planned to be completed in December 2017, but because of marginalised weather shipping delays and untimely unavailability of materials, a four-month delay became unavoidable.
The new terminal building has the total floor space of 12,500 square meters up from the original 5,500 square metres and will cater for 600,000 passengers a year or 200 passengers per hour.
Ongoing improvements to the airport are expected with the completion of the new parking space for the aircraft scheduled for September of this year in which connecting bridges will also be built.