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Samoa Air awaits nod from Obama to begin service

It’s now up to the U.S. President or his designee to issue a final ruling to approve or disapprove Samoa Air’s application, which was given the green light this week by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to operate the inter-Samoa routes. Apia-based Samoa Air, whose trade name is Islander Enterprises Samoa Ltd., plans to utilize two 9-seat and one 3-seat aircraft on this proposed route to carry both passengers and cargo, as well as mail.The federal government on Jan. 8 tentatively granted Samoa Air’s foreign air carrier application to engage in flights on the inter Samoa route and points beyond the two Samoas, but prior to a final ruling, the federal agency was accepting comments for a period of 21-days. “No objections were received within the time period provided,” said USDOT in its final order issued Jan. 31 granting the application. It also says that the final order is subject to a review by the President, or his designee, in accordance with federal law. USDOT’s final order was also filed Jan. 31 with the President’s Office. Unless disapproved by the President, the federal agency said its final order shall become effective on the 61st day - which falls on Apr. 2, 2013, said USDOT. Samoa Air “may only use aircraft designed to have a maximum passenger capacity of not more than 60 seats and a maximum payload capacity of not more than 18,000 pounds,” it says. The federal government also provided, along with its final order, several conditions of the Foreign Air Carrier Permit, which includes that Samoa Air shall conform to the air worthiness and airman competency requirements of the Samoa government for international air services.It shall also comply with other reasonable terms, conditions, and limitations required by the public interest as may be prescribed by USDOT, with all applicable orders or regulations of other U.S. agencies and courts, and with all applicable laws of the United States.Former Gov. Togiola Tulafono and locally based Inter Island Airways both supported the Samoa Air application. USDOT, however, has yet to address Samoa Air’s request for cabotage exemption to operate the territory’s domestic flight.