NEW SHIPPING ROUTE PLANNED BETWEEN SAMOAS

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PAGO PAGO, Samoa (Samoa News/PINA Nius Online) - The American Samoa Inter-island Shipping Corporation is planning to open direct cargo services between American Samoa and Savaii in neighboring Samoa.

The company's service will bypass Samoa's capital of Apia on the more developed island of Upolu.

"We will not compete with ocean transport services provided by the MV Lady Naomi in and out of Apia," official Wallace Thompson said.

The MV Lady Naomi is operated by the Samoan government-owned Samoa Shipping Corporation.

American Samoa Inter-island Shipping Corporation's move to expand direct service to Savaii is based on a memorandum of understanding between the two Samoas. It looks at cooperative efforts at improving ocean transportation and trade between American Samoa and Samoa.

Officials said the company has been working with the Government of Samoa through the Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry.

Thompson said recent contact with the Samoan government has produced "very good news". The company is looking at starting services between Tutuila and Savaii in three weeks.

The company will utilize the MV Manu'atele, said Thompson.

He also said the company's marketing representative, Aina Sao Nua, is off to Apia to talk with Samoan officials regarding issues such as Customs and Immigration.

Thompson said that if Samoa can provide weekly shipping between Upolu and Tutuila, there is no reason why an American Samoa company cannot do the same

He said that Samoa Air was able to accomplish this goal with direct air service between Tutuila and Savaii some years ago.

Samoan government-owned Polynesian Airlines joined Samoa Air on the direct route more than a year ago.

Thompson said previously that there is a lot of interest in direct-ocean service to Savaii. There is also interest from other Pacific islands countries, he said.

And with the holiday season coming up, this direct service will make it easy for Savaiians in American Samoa to send cargo to Savaii instead of via Apia on Lady Naomi or via air, which is costly.

In May of last year, the corporation signed an agreement with American Samoa's Department of Port Administration. Under this it took over the government's ocean vessel transportation system.

The agreement allows it to lease the government-owned Manu'atele for five years to provide shipping services to the Manu'a Island Group and Swains Island from Tutuila.

The contract also allows the fledgling company to make payments toward purchasing the vessel.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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