A Brief History of Fragali’i Airport

     Isolated within the waters of the Pacific Ocean, south of the equator sits two large islands: Upolu and Savali’i. These two islands together make up the country of Samoa, a nation rich in ancient Polynesian culture and exotic exports. Snug on the island of Upolu sits a small but vital airfield: Fragali’i Airport (FGI).

Fragali’i is a small village just outside of Apia, the capital and the largest city of Samoa. The village’s airport has been owned by Polynesian Airlines since 1971 when the Samoa government sparked an interest to incite more tourism on the two exotic islands.

Throughout the years, the Samoa government has done business with other airlines such as Ansett Airlines and Polynesian Blue, with hopes that their flight traffic would increase revenue and more tourism. The airport closed temporally and in July 2002, reopened. What was once a dangerous grass airstrip was now paved and newly remodeled.

After intricate business arrangements in 2005, however, the government soon found itself spending half of their annual budget on flights to and from the country, not as a final destination as officials have hoped for. Not only was the Samoa government losing massive amounts of revenue, but they and the villagers alike had growing concerns about the safety and the amount of noise produced. Fragali’i Airport was shut down later that year.

Although the same concerns remained, the airport was reopened in July 2009 by Polynesian Airlines, resuming flights to Pago Pago and American Samoa. Since 2012 Fragali’i Airport has been utilized by Virgin Samoa, which was previously Polynesian Blue, and is a branch of the larger Virgin Australia brand. Samoa Airways, previously known as Polynesian Airlines, also has busy traffic from the airport, flying routes to and from different islands in the surrounding area.

Despite its unstable history, the Samoa government has been able to maintain a steady profit off Fagali’i Airport, making it an essential asset to the country’s financial well-being.

Obscure to the western world, Samoa has become a popular destination for patrons residing in Australia and New Zealand. There are tons of luxury hotels, museums, and events located just minutes from the airport. The locals are described as friendly and anxious to share their culture through music, food, and art.

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