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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, July 31) - Governor Togiola told listeners of his weekend radio program on Saturday that he will do everything in his power under the law to make the point known to Hawaiian Airline he is not merely talking stories, but that the government is serious that it wants Hawaiian out of this market.

Togiola said this is because it is a fact that the territory has suffered because of Hawaiian Air. He said it appears that the carrier "doesn't care" because of its response that the governor's executive order to force them out of American Samoa has no legal power.

The governor said it seems that Hawaiian isn't worried, and this is the type of airline we are dealing with - an airline that doesn't care and is condescending. He said if we add this attitude with the attitude of local residents who support the carrier, then it adds to the bigger problem.

Togiola said the truth is he is not going to back down from his position, that this matter has been researched and he is confident that, as governor, he has the authority to make this decision (force Hawaiian out).

He said if Hawaiian plans to take legal action, he is already prepared to reply to it. He said he didn't just issue an executive order and then sit around. He said this is not something he has not reviewed and made plans ahead of time.

The governor then explained his executive order, and what it requires Hawaiian to do. According to the executive order, which was issued last Wednesday, Hawaiian has 90 days to withdraw from the market. The carrier is given 30 days more if by that time a replacement carrier is not found.

The governor accuses Hawaiian of engaging in "discriminatory practices" and "ethnic harassment" towards the people of American Samoa.

Hawaiian spokesman Keoni Wagner said the carrier's disappointed with Togiola for taking this action.

"Hawaiian has responded in good faith to all of the governor's concerns and we've offered to discuss them face-to-face, but he has so far refused to meet with us."

The governor said on his radio program that the view by Hawaiian, that the governor can't force them out of here is incorrect. He said American Samoa controls its borders, and that's why government's approval is needed to clear any flights/transportation coming in and going out.

The first caller, a broadcast reporter, asked the governor about reports he heard from residents that the local Hawaiian office said there will be no flights this week until next Thursday.

The governor said he has not received such reports, but a notice needs to be given if this is the case because there are already flights scheduled.

When contacted Saturday, Wagner said there is no truth to these reports.

"Flights are operating as scheduled," he said. "You have to wonder what motivates people to spread negative rumors like this."

[PIR editor’s note: the earliest reported incident between the Governor and Hawaiian Air representatives began in mid-May, when Hawaiian was urged to lower fares. Most recently, the two have been in talks to try and settle their differences.]

August 1, 2006

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