12 October 2014

American Samoa granted temporary 30-day exemption for non-U.S. carrier to fly between the territory's islands

"Restriction on air service rights for U.S. dependencies, providing monopolies to U.S. carriers, is inconsistent with the free market, and is the primary reason for overly expensive airfares to, from and within these territories. The same scenario is witnessed with the unilateral application of the U.S. Jones Act to most of the territories where U.S. sea carriers exercise a monopoly on service. This results in high costs for commodities transported by ocean freight even as these dependencies, save Puerto Rico, lie outside the U.S. customs zone. Yet the prerogative of the federal government is to unilaterally apply whatever regulations they desire to these offshore areas to protect certain business interests. But then again, the U.S. dependencies are classic colonies, so what should we expect?"  -  A Pacific expert.    



Sun, 10/05/2014 - 7:26am | Category
 Fili Sagapolutele

The U.S. Department of Transportation has granted a 30-days cabotage exemption extension for Samoa government owned Polynesian Airlines to operate three-times a week flights between Tutuila and Manu’a.

The extension decision, issued Sept. 25 by USDOT’s Susan L. Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, followed a Sept. 23 request by Polynesian, which was initially granted cabotage exemption for Sept. 1-30.

In its Sept. 23 request, Polynesian sought a 30-day extension of the cabotage exemption, saying that the Tutuila-Manu’a route “remains without U.S. carrier service” and Polynesian is the only air carrier able to “provide much needed transportation between the two points and thus prevent severe hardship to American Samoa residents.”

“Indeed, in addition to operating regular service Polynesian has been called upon to provide medical evacuation during the past thirty days. There is a clear need for continued service for an additional thirty days,” Polynesian said, through its Washington D.C. based attorney.

In her decision, Kurland agreed with Polynesian, saying that the absence of U.S. carrier passenger service while Inter Island Airways’ aircraft is out of service “continues to constitute an emergency created by unusual circumstances not arising in the normal course of business.”

“We... found that granting of this authority would prevent unreasonable hardship to the residents of American Samoa,” she said and granted an exemption for an additional period of 30 days — Oct. 1-30, 2014 — or until five days after a U.S. carrier initiates intra-American Samoa passenger operations, whichever occurs first.

According to USDOT, there was no opposition to Polynesian’s request and Inter Island Airways supported the 30-day extension.

Inter Island Airways aircraft have been down due to engine problems for more than two months and the locally based carrier is hopeful to have the aircraft back in service later this month.

Polynesian is utilizing a 19-seat Twin Otter plane for the three times a week service to Manu’a. The airline, which has two Twin Otter planes, also continues to serve the inter Samoa route that is expected to get very busy next week — with full flights — as White Sunday, Oct. 12 approaches.