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DOT approves Hawaiian Air’s requests to suspend most out-of-state flights

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In an April 17 order, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) granted a second exemption request by Hawaiian Airlines for temporary suspension of flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago, based on a request from Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga made the preceding day. USDOT also approved Hawaiian’s suspension of many mainland flights as well.

Earlier this month, the federal agency, granted the airline’s first exemption of Service Obligation for American Samoa, after Lolo requested a 30-day suspension of flights on Mar. 28 as American Samoa put in place measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Then on April 16, the governor requested, and Hawaiian Airlines approved another suspension of flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago, with June 1st as the “target date” for resumption of service.

The Hawaiian Air request to the USDOT made the following day included the governor’s letter to airline president and chief executive officer, Peter Ingram — who granted the request.

The governor shared with Ingram his concerns with the increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Hawaii and the US mainland.

During the ASG COVID-19 Task Force meeting two weekends ago, the governor said that, “my own personal view of what is happening is — as long as Hawaii and the US mainland are not settled with the virus, I don’t think we should let our guard down,” on the current status, he said.

In response to Hawaiian’s request USDOT’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Aviation and International Affairs, David Short, approved the second request for the period of Apr. 17th to June 1st.

According to the approval order, USDOT “deemed American Samoa as an exempt point from Hawaiian’s Service Obligation so long as the Governor of American Samoa Lolo Moliga’s request for Hawaiian to suspend service remained in effect.”

The USDOT order also covered temporary suspension of Hawaiian Airlines’ flights between Hawaii and eight US cities - Boston, Las Vegas, New York City (which has the highest death rate in the US), Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), Seattle, as well as Sacramento and San Diego in California.

Exemption for these flights to the US mainland are effective from Apr. 17th through Sept. 30th, according to the USDOT order.