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Inter-Island Air says they did best they could for flyers

Inter Island Airways official Esther Sene-Prescott says the locally based airline did the best it could to contact passengers about the cancellation of flights, as well as accommodate them on Polynesian Airlines. She said they also issued refunds to passengers who were inconvenienced.

She was responding to a story in yesterday’s Samoa News which stated in part that several passengers who were confirmed on Inter Island Air were furious they were not notified that the flights on Monday (in Samoa) had been cancelled.

After receiving calls about the issue, Samoa News sent inquiries to Sene-Prescott on Tuesday, who had not responded as of press time.

The Samoa News reporter who compiled the story said email inquiries were sent to Sene-Prescott, and Samoa News stands by its story that efforts were made to reach the airline for comments.

However, the airline official contacted Samoa News late Wednesday morning saying that she was “very disappointed” with the story, because it had not sought any comments from the airline. She said she wished she had been contacted for the airline's side of the story.

She also said that no one from Samoa Observer — in Apia — contacted her for comments. (She was referring to passengers quoted in the story based on a Samoa Observer news article).

She said airline staff in both Samoas made every effort to contact confirmed passengers about the changes to the flight schedule and at the same time, Inter Island tried securing seats on Polynesian Airlines for passengers coming from Apia.

“We even did charters. This was provided by Polynesian Airlines  based on their possible openings, pilot hours and so forth,” she said and noted that it was difficult to secure seats on Polynesian, which was also faced with their own passenger load.

“Nevertheless, we still appreciate Polynesian Airlines for also doing their best to try to accommodate us,” she said and confirmed that the airline did end up issuing refunds to some passengers. “These refunds were based on the day that the passenger was supposed to come over to Pago Pago, in an orderly manner.”

“We also put some of these passengers at hotels until we secured passage for them.  We even paid Polynesian Shipping — agent for Samoa Shipping — to bring some of our passengers on the MV Lady Naomi from Apia,” she said. “Through this difficult period, we have tried, and are still trying, to do our best to assist the traveling public.”

“We really appreciate the public's patience during this difficult period and we apologize for the inconvenience,” she added.

She also disputes a claim in the  story that issues pertaining to the airline’s license led to the cancellation of inter Samoa and Manu’a flights. She said the cancellation was because of a mechanical problem with the aircraft, which needs parts shipped from off-island.

“...because of our remote location, it takes time to send any parts to American Samoa, as well as the availability of these aircraft parts causes further delays,” she said and noted that the public will be informed when air service resumes.