Smaller planes could mean more flights for Pago
American Samoa Visitors Bureau board chairman Roy J.D. Hall Jr., says there’s an ongoing dialogue with Hawaiian Airlines regarding an increase in the frequency of weekly flights between Pago Pago and Honolulu.
Hawaiian Air, the only airline connecting the territory to the U.S., operates two weekly flights year-round and during peak seasons like the Christmas holidays and the summer months, there are three weekly flights.
Speaking at Friday’s budget hearing for the Visitor’s Bureau, Hall told lawmakers that he met with Hawaiian in an effort to persuade the airline to operate three weekly flights year round and four weekly flights during the peak season.
“They’re very responsive to that. They informed me that they are looking at purchasing new planes, which will probably fit this market and so that dialogue is ongoing,” he said.
Hawaiian Airlines has maintained over the years that passenger loads do not justify a third weekly flight for off peak season and this sentiment was also shared by the airline during a meeting early this year with Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who requested that the airline, among other things, reduce airfares and increase flights to and from Pago Pago.
Lolo argued during the Hawaiian meeting with the airline’s president and CEO, Mark Dunkerley that if the airfares are lowered that would result in more passengers traveling on the Honolulu-Pago Pago route.
Dunkerley informed the governor that the airline plans to acquire smaller capacity planes that will more economically serve the needs of American Samoa. These new airplanes, will be received in 2017, and that will mean lower airfares for the traveling public.
During the budget hearings, Hall told lawmakers that cruise ship visits to the territory have increased over the last four years and the Visitors Bureau needs to focus on attracting other visitors and this is the reason he has requested that Hawaiian increase fight frequency to the territory in order to bring more visitors to American Samoa.
And as tourists begin to come to the territory in greater numbers, Hall says the opportunities for development of hotels, bed and breakfasts, even services to backpackers as a tourist element would also increase.
More details from the hearing in tomorrow’s edition.
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