Extra holiday travel — StarKist shutting down for holidays
StarKist Samoa, the largest private employer in the territory, will shut down production after this Friday for its annual downtime at year’s end, with many of its workforce heading to Samoa for the Christmas holiday break, which is keeping flights on the inter Samoa route very busy.
Responding to Samoa News questions, StarKist corporate spokesperson Michelle Faist said the cannery’s last production day is this Friday, followed by a two-week holiday break “which is part of StarKist Samoa’s standard facility schedule and general maintenance is conducted during that time.”
“We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season,” Faist said via email from Pittsburgh, Pa., adding that StarKist Samoa production will resume Jan. 6, 2014.
Samoa News understands that some 100 plus crew members will remain at the Atu’u-based cannery for maintenance work during the down time.
Prior to resumption of production next month, StarKist Samoa will start issuing public announcements on radio stations here and in Samoa reminding workers about the the date production will resume. Workers are being asked by the cannery to listen to the broadcasts for the reminder notice as well as any changes which may be made.
With Christmas just a week away, flights on the inter Samoa route are busy, with extra flights added by both Polynesian Airlines and Inter Island Airways. Cannery workers and their families are also keeping flights busy.
Polynesian’s local station manager Toe Loia says several flights have been added to the schedule since early this month with an average of 16 flights per day starting around 7a.m and utilizing both of Polynesian’s Twin-Otter 19-passenger aircraft.
He said the busiest travel dates are today through Dec. 23 — which would already be Christmas Eve in Samoa — adding that the Samoa government owned airline is already looking at a very busy first week of January in 2014 for residents returning after the holidays.
At Inter Island Air, the locally based carrier has also added flights based on demand. Two extra flights have been added for this Friday — making it four flights — while one extra flight has been added for Saturday. The airline has also added extra flights for Manu’a between tomorrow and Christmas, according to an airline official.
Both airlines are expecting the usual increase in cargo bound for Apia and will work to get it moved on all flights.
For the MV Lady Naomi, there are two sails this week — the extra one that arrived on Monday this week, and the usual sail tomorrow. The next sail will not be until Jan. 2, next year, according to local agent Polynesia Shipping, who also say that the sailing schedule is determined by the Samoa government owned Samoa Shipping Service.
Meanwhile, Hawaiian Airlines reminds travelers of its two extra flights for December to accommodate the busy holiday traffic between Pago Pago and Honolulu. Those dates are Sunday, Dec. 22 and Sunday, Dec. 29. For January, an extra flight is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 5. All flights arrive and depart at night utilizing the same time schedule as the carrier’s current flights on Mondays and Fridays.