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ASG: Excused absence with pay for Samoa jubilee

Gov. Togiola Tulafono has granted “excused absence with pay” for all government employees who are directly participating in this year’s 50th Anniversary Independence celebration in Samoa, and currently the inter Samoa flights are fully booked with extra flights added.

Samoa’s silver jubilee celebration runs from May 30 to June 2 (all Samoa time) and village groups from American Samoa are participating in the siva and pese as well as the cricket tournament.

In a May 23 memorandum, the governor informed all department directors and heads of government offices that all ASG employees who “are participating directly in representing American Samoa” at the 50th Anniversary of Samoa’s Independence celebrations in Apia “are herewith granted excused absence with pay from work while they are directly participating.”

The memo included a list of employees which had been compiled by the Governor’s Office and these employees are to be granted the excused absence. Any subsequent changes to the list are to be made only with approval of the governor’s office, the memo states.

 Samoa News wasn’t able to obtain a copy of the list so it was unclear at press time, as to the total number of ASG employees granted excused absence with pay.

The flights out of Pago Pago on Sunday and Monday (Memorial Day) were busy, and the Independence celebration will be keeping inter Samoa flights very busy thru June 1.

Toe Loia, local station manager for Polynesian Airlines, said the Samoa government owned airline is adding between five to eight extra flights and this means the airline is operating between eight to 12 flights, on average, per day.

“Because of the big demand in air travel, we are operating our second twin otter 19-seater aircraft,” said Loia in a telephone interview. He also said peak travel to Apia began yesterday, and continues today and tomorrow heading into Thursday.

Loia said Polynesian is accommodating family groups, sporting organizations, and the many individuals heading to Apia for the UB4O Concert, set for June 1 (Samoa time).

At locally based Inter Island Airways, an airline official says they too have added extra flights to accommodate performing groups and extra traffic to Apia. The official says Inter Island is operating about five flights a day for Samoa, and will continue to provide regular service for the Manu’a island group.

At this point, both airlines recommend that any last minute traveler wanting a confirmed seat on their flights to Samoa should purchase a ticket to get on the waiting list. “During this busy time, we ask for the public’s patience, as we do our best to accommodate everyone,” said the Inter Island official.

Both airlines are also adding extra flights between June 5 and June 8 to bring people home from the celebration.