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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, June 3) - Hawaiian
Airlines (HAL) has decided to adjust the recently increased charges for LBJ
Medical Center patients requiring a stretcher medical evacuation to Hawaii,
following concerns raised by the hospital's chairman of the Board, Tulogologo
Joseph M. Pereira.

Tulogologo informed HAL president and chief operating officer,
Mark B. Dunkerley, last month that the new fare hike for stretcher cases
"is disastrous to our ability to seek medical treatment off-island for the
critically ill residents of American Samoa".

He said the raised airfare of $10,000 per stretcher patient is
very difficult to rationalize as it represents an increase of approximately 233

In response, Dunkerley informed Tulogologo via letter recently
that after looking into the matter, "we have decided to adjust the recent
increase as we certainly do not want there to be the suggestion that Hawaiian
Airlines now profits from the carriage of people in need".

"Preparing the logistics for the installation of the
stretcher in the cabin on the short notice that is customary in these cases and
accommodating the medical equipment and other medical supplies that frequently
accompany a passenger traveling a stretcher, imposes on us costs that exceed
just the seats occupied," Dunkerley explained.

A stretcher case usually takes up nine-seats and the old price
was $3,000 a stretcher case.

Dunkerley said HAL couldn’t continue to subsidize "this
activity to the extent that we have done in the past".

"Accordingly, our new fare for the carriage of stretcher
patients will be reduced to $6,750 inclusive of all taxes and fees," he
said in the letter to Tulogologo.

According to Tulogologo, the LBJ Hospital spends an average of
$3 million annually for medical treatment in Hawaii and pays HAL approximately
$665,000 for travel annually.

"We understand completely the precarious nature of Hawaiian
Airlines' financial position and the subsequent emanation of implemented
actions," Tulogologo wrote to Dunkerley.

"However, the economic severity of the actions taken
without rational basis raises questions on the commitment and sensitivity of
Hawaiian Airlines towards the community that has contributed substantially to
its survival," he added.

Dunkerley said HAL does feel a responsibility to the communities
that it serves and none more so than American Samoa where the air service
alternatives are less attractive.

"At the same time," Dunkerley informed Tulogologo,
"we are not funded like a public service and must be able to cover our

Dunkerley said the airline is tackling this "unsustainable
condition by trimming our costs and have asked not only our employees but also
our suppliers to make sacrifices".

"And we have been forced to review all areas where we
charge less for the services provided than for the costs of providing
them," Dunkerley pointed out. "Our increase in charges for the
carriage of stretcher cases is but one such example."

"We hope and intend to continue serving American Samoa and
want to be an important part of the island's infrastructure," he added.

"Our intention is not to benefit from those who require our
assistance the most but simply to come closer to covering our costs in the hopes
of being able to sustain this service for many years.

Governor Togiola Tulafono had told Samoa News of his
disappointment over the recent Hawaiian Airlines fare increase that went up to
26 percent from the old fare.

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni, also disappointed, had written to
Dunkerley that the airfare increases are "not justified" and
"inexplicably unfair".

"As the only commercial passenger airline operating in
American Samoa (to US destinations), Hawaiian Airlines should be cautious to
prevent the impression that they are behaving like a monopoly,"
Faleomavaega informed Dunkerley.

Sources said last week that Dunkerley had also responded to
concerns raised by Congressman Faleomavaega over the fare increases but efforts
to reached the Congressman, for comments, were unsuccessful.

Samoa News sources, however, said that Dunkerley had informed
the congressman of the high cost of operating flights to a "remote"
destination such as American Samoa.

In the letter, said sources, Dunkerley points out for example
that if an aircraft breaks down in Pago Pago, such as the two cases since
January this year, it is costly to the carrier to bring in parts by chartering
another airline - which is the case in one of the break-down of a Hawaiian plane
early this year.

During the second incident, Hawaiian Airlines ferried down a
brand-new B767 that just arrived in Honolulu to bring the necessary parts.

Faleomavaega was reported to be heading to Washington DC after
Samoa's Independence Day celebrations, which he attended.

June 4, 2003

Samoa News: www.samoanews.com 

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