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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (April 23, 2001 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---A partially shutdown of the instrumental landing system (ILS) at Pago Pago International Airport is prompting two airlines to consider diverting their regular landings to other airports.

The partial shutdown is due to a runway extension construction project now under way.

Federal Aviation Administration¹s (FAA) local resident director Smitty Lutu said the airport and the major commercial airlines using the landing system were informed in advance of the partial shutdown.

But U.S.-based cargo carrier Evergreen International is now complaining about the actions taken. Evergreen is threatening to divert its twice-a-week cargo flights to Fiji, whereas Hawaiian Airlines has said it might divert to Apia's Faleolo Airport during bad weather.

Jason Pritchard of Samoa Air, the airport-agent for Evergreen, said the air cargo company has shown concern over the partial shutdown of the ILS because their flights come in at night when the control tower is closed.

Lutu said the ILS was still operating, except for the "glideslope" portion of the navigational equipment, which has been shut down to prevent damage during excavation work for the runway extension.

Department of Port Administration engineer Henry Wendt said he spoke with an Evergreen representative from the mainland, and the company raised some concerns about sending their planes here in the dark without the entire navigational system operating.

He said Evergreen was referred to the FAA. He also confirmed that a portion of the ILS is shut down due to construction activities at the airport.

Wendt said the airport was planning to use portable "glideslope" facilities on a temporary basis to enable the full ILS to be operational during the construction period. He said he expected the equipment to arrive within a few weeks.

Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson Keoni Wagner said from Honolulu that "at this point" the partial shutdown of the ILS does not affect the airlines’ flight operation and schedule. However, he noted that in the case of bad weather, where visibility is poor, the ILS is used and if such an incident occurs, there is a possibility of the flight being diverted to Apia, Samoa, for refueling and waiting out the weather to clear before returning to the territory. He said diverting flights to Apia had been done before.

The runway extension project got under way about four weeks ago.

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