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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (June 6, 2000 – PIDP/CPIS)---Evergreen International Airlines has officially taken over the cargo route to American Samoa vacated by Kitty Hawk International on May 2.

The Oregon-based air cargo company, utilizing a B-747 aircraft, also appointed Tutuila based-Samoa Air as its local agent and Pritchard Ground Service as aircraft and cargo handler. Samoa Air in return appointed Jason Pritchard as it's new Manager of Air Cargo Operations, responsible for the handling of Evergreen cargo flights, including cargo shipping and receiving.

Pritchard said on Monday that the weekly cargo flight will arrive on Thursdays but the arrival time, during evening hours, is flexible.

He was quick to point out that there is the possibility of increasing the number of flights weekly and also reducing Evergreen’s cargo rates, which are higher than its predecessor’s.

Samoa Air will accept and distribute cargo destined to, or from, American Samoa, including the handling of cargo shipments from local freight forwarders, such as Summit Cargo Group and Fax Cargo Service.

According to Pritchard, Evergreen is hoping to secure a contract with the U.S. Postal Service to uplift the mail out of Honolulu. Kitty Hawk had the contract with the Postal Service and negotiations now are under way for Evergreen to provide mail services.

A backlog of mail still remains to be shipped to the territory from Honolulu.

Sources said the Postal Service and other firms are also negotiating with other carriers and air cargo companies to make a stop in American Samoa, including newly founded Pacific Air Cargo of Los Angeles.

A woman who answered the company's telephone in Los Angeles when asked for confirmation said, "We have no comments at this time."

The Evergreen weekly flight includes a stop in American Samoa after departing Honolulu, before heading to New Zealand, Australia and the Orient, a similar route taken by Kitty Hawk, which filed for bankruptcy several weeks ago.

Meantime, Samoa Air has announced that it is "implementing several enhancements" to its local cargo operations, including moving cargo more effectively and efficiently to better serve the public.

Samoa Air said it is looking forward to better serving the needs of the growing American Samoa population.

Besides serving the Manu'a Island Group from Tutuila, Samoa Air also flies to Fagali‘i and Faleolo airports on Upolu and Maota in Savai‘i. There also are weekly flights to Vava‘u, Tonga and charters to the island of Niue.

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