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APIA, Samoa (April 17, 2002 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---A Samoan official has responded to American Samoa's concerns over changes to the country's airspace controls, urging the neighboring territory not to worry.

General Manager of the Samoa Airports Authority, Fepulea'i Rimoni Aiafi, commenting on Samoa's shifting of control of its flight information region from Fiji to New Zealand, said: "It is to my understanding that Samoa can do whatever it wants with its airspace, now that it has retained control rights."

Fepulea'i was asked for a comment following a statement by American Samoan Congressman Eni Faleomavaega following concern over who controls Samoa's and American Samoa's airspace.

The reassignment by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at Samoa's request means agreements involving American Samoa must also be renegotiated as part of the changeover, Faleomavaega said.

Fepulea'i said the transfer was only of upper airspace and flight information region control rights, which were previously held by Fiji.

Last year, Tonga and Samoa successfully applied to the ICAO to reclaim control of their upper airspace and flight information regions, which were previously held by Fiji.

The ICAO, in the same meeting, approved a submission amending the Air Navigation Plan transferring the monitoring of Samoan airspace from Nadi to the Auckland Flight Information Region (FIR).

Samoa and Tonga have shifted control of their flight information regions to New Zealand. The New Zealanders had offered to pay them a share of the revenue from providing flight information to aircraft crossing their regions, something they did not get from Fiji.

Under the flight information region agreements countries provide their own local airport air traffic control or flight information services. But their upper air space and flight information regions are controlled from a regional center.

Nadi Airport has been a major regional center for providing flight information and upper airspace management since the 1950s, when it was developed as a key link for trans-Pacific aviation.

Under the new contractual agreement with Airways Corporation of New Zealand, Samoa is expected to receive NZ$ 325,000 (US$ 144,918) for the first year.

Further dividends are tentative, depending on how many flights will use Samoa's airspace.

The agreement is for five years.

Minister of Civil Aviation Palusalue Fa'apo II said at the time the change was announced: "For many years now the Fiji government has made a lot of money from controlling our airspace."

Fiji maintains that it has invested a lot of resources in infrastructure, staff and equipment and the income from this service has been vital to support this.

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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