Samoa
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Samoa Airways allegedly fails to remit employee income taxes to gov't

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Apia, SAMOA — Samoa Airways has failed to remit to local taxation authorities approximately WST2 million tala (USD737,450 dollars) in personal income tax payments collected from employees since 2019, according to Aviation.com.

Samoa Observer is also reporting airline employees saying that tax payments deducted from salaries have not been forwarded to Samoa's Ministry of Customs and Revenue. The state-owned airline's interim CEO, Fauoo Fatu Tielu, confirms the non-payment and says the airline doesn't have the available funds to make the payment. “It still shows in company books that money (is) owed of about ST$2 million,” he said. “If we pay with the current funds, the company won't be able to run its current operation."

State-owned Samoa Airways was established in 2017 using the Polynesian Airlines corporate shell. In addition to domestic services and flights to American Samoa, Samoa Airways then planned to resurrect parts of the old Polynesian Airlines international network. A series of wet-leased B737s came and went. Most recently, Samoa Airways terminated a lease in 3Q 2022 for an unwanted B737-800, costing the airline USD4.6 million in penalty payments. Following that, Samoa's minister of public enterprises, Leatinu’u Wayne So’oialo, said there were no further plans to induct any jet aircraft into the fleet. However, the airline would continue to operate its three DHC-8-300s and rely on joint ventures with other airlines to provide international services.

Fauoo says he is dealing with structural legacy challenges and prioritising paying debt owed to non-state entities. In the Samoan Government 2022/23 budget, handed down in May 2022, Samoa Airways was allocated WST6 million (USD2.21 million). Fauoo says he is in discussions with the Ministry of Customs and Revenue regarding the unpaid tax money.