Polynesia Airlines To Fly Between Tutuila, Manu‘a Am. Samoa

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Samoa government airline wins exception to provide domestic service

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Sept. 6, 2014) – American Samoa reached out to Samoa for help for air transportation and we responded. It’s part of Samoa and American Samoa working together, not only for air transportation but also on water — and Poly will start flights (between Tutuila and Manu’a) today," said Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailelei Malielegaoi in an exclusive interview with Samoa News at Tuanaimato where the Small Island Developing States conference just ended.

He said an application to fly between Tutuila and Manu’a was discussed during the recent Samoa Talks held in Samoa in July. Currently, three flights to Manu’a are planned every week from now until Sept. 26 — (all times and dates are American Samoa time) Mondays at 2:25 p.m., Wednesdays at 12:45 p.m., and Fridays at 8:45 a.m.

Polynesian Airlines CEO Seiuli Alvin Tuala told Samoa News that they will operate the three flights a week using the 19 seat Twin Otter and until they obtain their third aircraft, which they are looking at having by September 20. The flights will then be daily. He said the airfares will be between $150-$180 similar to airfares to and from Tutuila and Samoa."

He told Samoa News that he’s honored and happy to be able to assist American Samoa.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) granted Polynesian’s application for an emergency exemption to operate the territory’s domestic air service, but the initial period of the exemption is only for 30-days, however Polynesian’s request — made Aug. 25 — was to permit the Samoa government airline to transport persons, property, and mail to and from the Manu’a islands for a period of 90 days beginning Sept. 1, 2014.

ASG supported the application, which included a letter from Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga. Inter Island also responded that it does not object to the application, but requested that it be allowed to comment if the exemption is more than 90-days.

Earlier this year, Samoa News reported that the MOU signed between Manu’a Airways and ASG had reduced significantly airport rental fees both at PPG and Manu’a, with some rentals promised to that airline as low as $1 per month

Samoa News asked Tuala if he would be asking the government for similar rates, as their airline is the one operating to and from Manu’a.

"It’s something I will be definitely look into and will work with Governor Lolo and the administration hand in hand for options for Polynesian, but I cannot comment as to the on-going negotiations."

This isn’t the first time Polynesian Air is flying to the Manu’a Islands.

The flights come at a time when a new passenger-carrying catamaran, the Segaula, arrived in the territory this past Wednesday, christened the following day, and set to embark on its maiden voyage today.

This is the first time in a while that Manu’a residents have the option of choosing whether they want to travel by air or sea.

The Segaula will be traveling between the Manu’a Islands and on an ‘as needed’ basis to American Samoa. Meanwhile, the MV Sili departed the territory for Manu’a yesterday.

Samoa News correspondent B. Chen contributed to this report

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