Territory gets $3.1M grant funding for airport improvements in Manu’a
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has awarded three grants totaling more than $3.1 million for improvements to Ofu and Fitiuta airports in the Manu’a island group, and Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has already signed off on the grant awards and agreements.
Lolo said the grants will “certainly bolster the achievement” of the government’s commitment to create jobs and improve services for the people of Manu’a. The grant application was submitted earlier this year in June by the Department of Port Administration.
The biggest grant of $3.06 million is to construct an Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Facility (ARFF) building at the Ofu Airport. The ARFF building is to comply with FAA regulations requiring airports servicing commercial aircrafts to have such a facility.
In July this year, the FAA certified the Ofu Airport as a commercial airport, lifting its “inactive” status which was in place since late 2010 when locally owned Inter Island Airways suspended air service due to the shortness of the runway to accommodate its 19-seater plane.
Last month Port Administration director, Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Tuia Poumele told Samoa News that one of the requirements in reactivating the Ofu Airport was that ASG needed to construct a temporary Fire Station at the Ofu airport while awaiting funds to construct a permanent facility.
To address this requirement, Port Administration sent to Ofu a fire truck and is currently rotating firemen from Tutuila every two weeks.
Inter Island Airways is currently undergoing FAA certification of the ASG aircraft Segaula to operate commercial fights to and from Ofu. The aircraft is under a lease-to-own agreement with ASG.
The second FAA grant of $150,000 is to conduct a wildlife assessment of wildlife activity for Ofu Airport.
The completed study will be an essential tool to enable airport management to understand the type of wildlife that live around the airport and provide the means to control this wildlife and minimize wildlife hazard to airport operations, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
The third grant of $2,000 is to construct a perimeter fence around the Fitiuta Airport and the design was completed and approved last month by the FAA. Construction of the project is currently out for bid and a consultant is currently conducting a wildlife assessment study at the airport, whose ARFF building was completed last year.
“The priority project now for Fitiuta Airport is securing the entire airport property with a new security perimeter fence,” the governor said in the news release.
A CONDITION OF THESE GRANTS
“A condition of these grants is that American Samoa must be legally, financially, and otherwise able to carry out the assurances and obligations contained in the project application and grant agreement,” the governor said. “Aviation demand at the airport must justify the projects, which must also meet federal environmental and procurement requirements.”
Lolo commended and acknowledged the “effective collaboration” among the Port Administration, Territorial Office of Fiscal Reform and Procurement Office, “not only for being great stewards of our Airport Improvement Program funded by FAA, but also for manifesting what was accomplished through team work.”
Lolo also recognized and expressed appreciation to the Port Administration director and staff “for achieving this milestone in efforts to improve the quality of transportation services for Manu’a residents.”
The governor thanked the FAA, including its Honolulu office, for providing millions of dollars over the years to improve airport infrastructure in the territory.
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