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Samoa based airline files app for cabotage waiver

An airline based in Samoa has filed an emergency application with the U.S. Department of Transportation seeking a waiver from federal cabotage law to operate charter domestic flights within American Samoa.

Islander Enterprises Samoa Ltd., doing business as Samoa Air, filed its application yesterday seeking to operate flights between the main island of Tutuila and the Ofu and Fitiuta airports in the Manu’a island group.

Samoa Air requests the exemption be granted for an initial period of 30 days and flight operations are  primarily to meet a critical need for air transportation services to the Manu’a islands to provide proper medical care for the residents of the Manu'a Islands.

American Samoa based Inter Island Airways discontinued commerce service to the Ofu Airport some three years ago but continues to operate flights to Fitiuta airport.  However, Samoa Air says that there is a pressing need to supplement the current but highly irregular flights offered by Inter Island Airways to Fitiuta airport.

The airline says granting its application for an exemption to provide domestic service for American Samoa will ensure that the physicians and clinical staff of the privately owned Manu' a Health System and the rural access hospital in the Manu' a Islands have access to reliable air transportation services that are necessary to provide vital medical services to the islands' residents.

The airline plans to use its two 9-passenger plane for the proposed service.

The application request comes weeks after the inter Samoa talks held in Pago Pago in October where Gov. Togiola Tulafono pledge ASG support for Samoa Air when applying for a cabotage waiver to operate domestic flights in the territory.

More details on the application as well as a letter of support from the governor on Friday.