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Gov't sponsored air transport study gets underway

fili@samoanews.com

The U.S. based company contracted by the American Samoa Government to carry out an air transport marketing study has begun its work, and they have a year to complete the task of assessing the needs and market for expanded air cargo and passenger transport services in and out of Pago Pago International Airport.

UBM Aviation-ASM, based in Washington D.C. was given the contract in the amount of $599,999 and the company’s two officials — Sandy Rederer and Stan Hula — were in the territory late last week to meet with territorial officials as part of their work.

Chamber chairman David Robinson announced during last week’s general membership meeting that the two officials would be on island and planned to meet with the business organization.

Robinson told Samoa News early this week that the work by UBM Aviation has begun and it’s being coordinated with the local Department of Commerce. He said the work is expected to be completed within 12 months and a report will then be presented to both local and federal officials.

Robinson represented the Chamber in a recent meeting with UBM Aviation officials to discuss their approach to the task and to provide some input into the economic situation that the territory faces and some thoughts as to how it might be improved.

“The main points of the discussion surrounded the current high cost of airfare on the Pago Pago-Honolulu route, a limited air cargo service, some form of cabotage relief, code sharing and how it can be demonstrated to airlines that tourism infrastructure growth is coming, he said.

Mention was also made of recent discussions with the Indonesian government regarding ways in which flights by their national carrier, Garuda Indonesia could be structured to include American Samoa as a stopover destination, he said.

UBM is well prepared to use its considerable resources, staff and contacts to seek support from the regulators in the U.S. Department of Transport and the international aviation staff at the U.S. State Department as well as key Senators and House members involved in transportation and their committee staffs, the Chamber chairman noted.

“The work in preparing this report is extensive and while it has only just commenced, the Chamber has pledged all the support it can through its membership in assisting the Department of Commerce and UBM with its preparation,” he said.

“It sees this as one of the most important studies to be undertaken to improve the territory’s economic conditions in a wide range of industry sectors in future,” he added.

NEW OFFICERS

Meanwhile, the Chamber board met Tuesday night to elect its executives for the year. Robinson was re-elected chairman; Jason Betham as vice chair, Laufa’i Fanene as secretary and Leland Slater as treasurer.

Other board members are Isabel Hudson, Aaron Forsgren, Brett Butler and Ethan Lake. Some of the 2013 Issues, Planning and Objectives for the Board are to meet with the Governor and Lt Governor elect as soon as possible to discuss the Chamber’s participation and input into the new Administration’s economic and investment plans, said Robinson.

Additionally, they hope to pursue commercial opportunities for the Chamber membership on the back of recent visits and discussions to Indonesia and Taiwan and to establish lines of communication in Australia and New Zealand to search for new potential investment.

“We plan to establish working committees to deal with special projects such as economic development, small business development, fisheries, tourism development and training, and a number of other important issues to assist the business community,” Robinson told Samoa News yesterday.

“We hope to establish our own office facility with secretarial support, and upgrade our website as an information tool, and to produce a monthly newsletter for circulation to the private sector and government,” he said. “Monthly membership meetings will be held in an informal atmosphere and guest speakers will be invited to address the members on topics for specific industry sectors.”

“We are looking forward to another strong year for the Chamber with a new committee and a new Administration to work with, to assist in developing and strengthening our economy,” he added.



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