SAMOA AIR AWARDED OVER $16,000 IN FEDERAL AID

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 18, 2001 – Samoa News)---Samoa Air has been awarded more than $16,000 under the federal Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act and is waiting for the second and last payment under the new legislation.

U.S. Department of Transportation spokesman Don Bright confirmed to the Samoa News that "Samoa Aviation doing business as Samoa Air was paid $16,988 in the first round of claims payments."

Bright said Samoa Air filed a second round application for funds last month, and a decision is pending.

The award to Samoa Air and other U.S. airlines is part of the federal government's financial aid package for the nation's airlines following the terrorist attacks on September 11th.

There are three components to the federal Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act -- compensation for lost revenues, an insurance reimbursement plan and a loan guarantee program.

The first component, in which Samoa Air received its $16,988, is partial compensation for revenues lost during the shut down of the country's airspace that grounded all U.S. carriers for up to four days.

"The $16,988 was the first payment received on Samoa Air's portion of the total revenues," Samoa Air's chief operating officer, Andre Lavigne, said in respond to Samoa News inquiries.

"We have been advised that we may receive a second, and last, installment in the future," said Lavigne.

"The calculations of the payment amounts strongly benefited the major carriers," he added.

Although the major carriers lost a lot more than Samoa Air, "proportionally we are much more sensitive to losing every single dollar of business than United Airlines," said Lavigne.

As of yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it had transmitted payments totaling $3.8 billion to 113 airlines.

Some airlines already have received their second round of payments.

DOT said it received over 300 applications for compensation in the second round of payments and an expanded review staff is working full-time to process the applications.

Hawaiian Airlines, which offers service between Honolulu and Pago Pago, has been awarded $24.9 million in compensation under this provision of the Stabilization Act.

According to Lavigne, Samoa Air hasn't gotten specific details about the second component of the Stabilization Act, the insurance reimbursement plan.

"This plan was to address the sudden and expensive requirement for war damage coverage," Lavigne explained. "We never had to consider this type of coverage before. The insurance industry forced all airlines to obtain this type of coverage immediately and at great costs."

"Even in Samoa we have to be insured against a possible war event," he added.

The final component is the loan guarantee program will assist airlines in obtaining financial loan help. Lavigne said Samoa Air is also exploring this component.

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

For additional reports from the Samoa News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa News.

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