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Inter-Island Airways does not object to Samoa Air’s Manu'a plans

fili@samoanews.com

Locally based Inter Island Airways does not oppose the two applications filed by a Samoa based airline to operate American Samoa’s domestic flights as well as flights on the inter Samoa route — including relaunching flights between Tutuila and Savai’i island in Samoa.

The first application for Islander Enterprises Samoa Ltd. dba Samoa Air seeks to provide flights between Tutuila and the Manu’a Island group. The application was supported by Gov. Togiola Tulafono and Dr. Malouamaua Tuiolosega, chief executive officer of Manu’a Health System.

Last Wednesday, Inter Island Airways president Alex Sene Jr., filed the carrier’s response saying that it “does not object” to Samoa Air’s application for emergency exemption to engage in air transportation between the Tafuna airport and Fitiuta and Ofu domestic airports in Manu’a.

However, Inter Island requested that it be granted an opportunity to comment should Samoa Air file an extension beyond the 30-days time-limited exemption that it currently seeks from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Inter Island also does not object to Samoa Air’s second application seeking an exemption and foreign air carrier permit to operate scheduled and charter flights between Maota airport on Savai’i and Tutuila. Samoa Air had said that this route will be launched as soon as possible.

Additionally, Samoa Air is also looking at operating flights between Faleolo and Fagali’i airports on Upolu island and Tutuila.

Sene pointed out that Samoa is a party to the  Multilateral Agreement of the Liberalization of International Air Transportation (“MALIAT”), broadening air transport services between the United States and Samoa. He said the proposal by Samoa Air is within the scope of the MALIAT and is open to U.S. carriers.

Inter Island also noted that it had supported a previous application by the Samoa government owned Polynesian Airlines back in 2004 on similar exemptions from federal regulations.

Sene went on to say that Inter Island, a U.S. carrier, is operating a 19-seater Dornier 228 and 30-seater Dornier 328 aircrafts providing air service to Samoa within the scope of MALIAT.

Inter Island requested USDOT to revisit the Polynesian’s exemption granted by the USDOT and the current Samoa Air application, in the event Inter Island is denied access to the Maota route, or the other routes proposed by Samoa Air.

SAMOA AIR’S NEW FILING

With no objection from Inter Island Air and the time for filing responses to its application — with respect to the request to operate the territory’s domestic flights — Samoa Air has requested that USDOT “grant as expeditiously as possible" the authority requested in its application, said Samoa Air’s legal team in a new filing last Thursday.

(Samoa Air had requested a 30-day cabotage authority to operate the territory’s domestic flights).

Samoa Air’s new filing was based on a request by the USDOT to provide information regarding the experience of each of the carrier’s officers, directors and other key personnel.  Attached to the latest reply are resumes of the company’s top officials.

In the original application as well as the information filed last week, the company’s president and managing director is Christopher S. Langton; June H. Langton is the financial controller; Ian Colville is the director; Peniata Maiava is chief pilot; Misi Park Yoshida, the engineering manager; Blake Milroy the Occurrence Investigation Officer; and Christian To’oala the Quality Manager.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

Pursuant to federal regulations, Samoa Air has submitted a separate motion for “confidential treatment” of certain commercial and financial information provided to USDOT.

Among the information sought to be placed under seal and not released publicly, is the carrier's capitalization and a traffic forecast and projected financial results for its first year of operation to American Samoa.

The company argued that — among other things — disclosure of this information would cause substantial harm to the competitive position of Samoa Air, a privately owned airline.

“Knowledge of such detailed information would permit a competitor to make strategic judgments — to the detriment of Samoa Air — based on data that it would not otherwise have access to,” the motion states.

“Disclosure of this highly sensitive commercial and financial information would cause substantial competitive harm to Samoa Air,” it says.



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