An airline serving one of the world’s heaviest nations has become the world’s first carrier to charge customers according to how much they weigh.

People wishing to travel with Samoa Air have to submit their weight, including their luggage, when booking in order to calculate their fare.

In its introduction to the “pay only for what you weigh” scheme, the company’s website says: “Booking a flight with us is as easy as inputting your approximate weight into our online booking engine (don’t worry, we will weigh you again at the airport) – you then can prepay your ‘guesstimate’, guaranteeing you that much weight is allocated to you for that flight… with Samoa Air, you are the master of how much (or little!) your air ticket will cost.”

In justifying the new approach, Samoa Air’s chief executive, Chris Langton, said: “People have always travelled on the basis of their seat but, as many airline operators know, airlines don’t run on seats they run on weight and particularly the smaller the aircraft you are in the less variance you can accept in terms of the difference in weight between passengers.”

He must also be aware that he has a bigger – literally and metaphorically – problem than most airline chief execs.

Samoa appears at number six in the World Health Organisation’s ranking of countries with more than 80.4 per cent of the population aged 15 and over overweight.

The UK appears at 28, with 63.8 per cent of the population overweight, and the US is ranked ninth, with 74.1 per cent overweight.