AIRLINES AND PAGO PAGO AIRPORT ARE Y2K-CONFIDENT

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 23, 1999 – Samoa News)---Airlines operating in and out of Pago Pago International Airport are confident that they are Y2K compliant.

Samoa Air, Polynesian Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines officials were surprised with the earlier Samoa News story stating that the airport will not accept international flights on December 31st.

That statement was made earlier this week by Faamausili Pola of TEMCO, but later rescinded.

Peter Lefiti, assistant director of the Port/Airport division, told the Samoa News that he had met with Port Director Abe Malae and could confirm that "the airport operates 24-hours a day and will not be closed on December 31st."

The Samoa News story also painted the wrong impression that Hawaiian Air had rescheduled its December 31 flight to December 30 due to the closure.

Hawaiian Airlines' spokesperson Keoni Wagner confirmed to the Samoa News yesterday in a telephone interview from Honolulu that the December 31st flight was moved forward a day "to allow travelers to be with families on New Year's Eve."

He said Hawaiian was unaware of any plans to close the local airport, and had rescheduled the flight last week.

The December 30th Hawaiian flight will arrive early, compared to the usual 10:00 p.m. arrival. The flight will arrive in Pago Pago at 6:20 p.m., and return about 95 minutes later.

Vaito'a Hans Langkilde, local manager for Polynesian Airlines, said he knew nothing of any December 31st shutdown. Officials from Samoa Air and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) here and in Honolulu said the same thing.

Y2K GLITCH

Lefiti said the airport is conducting required FAA testing for Y2K.

"We are required to conduct tests prior to 12 midnight and after the New Year. This also includes a checking of everything one hour before the take off of any flight to make sure things are working," said Lefiti. "All agencies working with the airport, such as FAA, will be at the airport to make sure there are no problems or to resolve any problems that occur.

"We don't foresee any problems," said Lefiti. "But if we do, a report is filed with the FAA."

"We have a checklist of everything which requires checking, from the runway lights to our radios," he noted.

The FAA tower at the airport was recently certified as Y2K compliant during a recent visit from a FAA task force, but their people will also be present to deal with any Y2K problems.

"It will be business as usual for us," said Jim Porter of Samoa Air, noting that their flight operations will not be affected.

Porter said their computerized records are Y2K compliant. That was verified by FAA officials early this month. Samoa Air's reservations are done manually.

Vaitoa said Polynesians is also Y2K compliant, but the airline has a contingency plan for the turn of the century. "All across our network, personnel are either on duty or on-call in case of any problems with the change of the year [from 1999 to 2000]," he added.

Both Samoa Air and Polynesian Airlines already have scheduled flights between the two Samoas lasting all the way up to 12 midnight on December 31st.

"But if we can get everyone out of the airport before midnight that will be great," said Vaito'a.

Hawaiian Airlines said last week that it has completed its Y2K preparations and "all critical systems have been tested with no 'Y2K' related performance problems being found."

The preparations cost more than $10 million and involved replacing major operating computer systems with "Y2K compliant" technology, and conducting comprehensive evaluation, remediation and testing of all of its systems and equipment.

Hawaiian Airlines and other U.S. carriers worked with federal officials as part of the Aviation Millennium Project.

HAL's President Paul J. Casey said they don't expect to have any Y2K operational problems.

"Travelers can rest assured that air travel over the holiday and into the New Year will be as safe and reliable as it is today," Casey said.

Samoa News

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