Pay as you weigh airfare a success

Last updated 14:10 12/12/2013
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BIT OF A STRETCH: Samoa Air's decision to calculate ticket prices based on the combined weight of the passenger and their luggage is a success.

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The world's first trial of a controversial airline fare system based on passengers' weight is being touted a success.

Pacific airline Samoa Air introduced the system late last year, and says the move has been so successful it is now upgrading its fleet.

Rather than charging passengers per seat, the airline charges passengers per kilo of body weight.

Passengers enter their weight when they book online, and are also weighed at the airport before they board their flight.

Chief executive Chris Langton said the 1.34 tala (64 cents) per kilogram charge had proved popular over the first 12 months as it meant cheaper fares for most passengers, especially for families travelling with children.

"People do the sums, that's their first interest," he told the ABC.

"They compare what they would pay on a pay-by-weight system and just do basic arithmetic."

The World Health Organisation says Samoa, like many Pacific island nations, has one of the world's highest rates of obesity, with soaring levels of weight-related coronary disease, diabetes and strokes.

"We find that generally speaking if you look at any operation anywhere between any destination worldwide, a person who comes in at about 120 kilos or less will always be better off to travel on a pay-by-weight system," Langton said.

He said the airline was in the process of adding to its three-aircraft fleet a new Cessna 208, which would be configured to ensure larger passengers who pay higher fares are given more space, so that "everybody gets what they're paying for".

He said worldwide airlines were currently discussing how pay-by-weight can be transferred to larger airplanes.

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