FAA Gives Am. Samoa Time To Develop Corrective Plan For Airport

admin's picture

No new leases allowed for land originally dedicated for airport property

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, April 7, 2015) – The Federal Aviation Administration has granted the Department of Port Administration’s request for an extension of time to file its corrective action plan following last December’s FAA land use inspection report for Pago Pago International Airport.

However, with the extension, comes a FAA request "that the ASG disallow any new land use or lease agreements in the 325 acre parcel which included the [Tafuna] industrial park," until the plan is in place.

FAA had given American Samoa until the end of February 2015 to respond to the report, as well as to provide a corrective action plan, but a Mar. 23 letter from Ron V. Simpson, the FAA manager for Honolulu Airports District Officer, to Port Administration director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele, reveals an extension was requested by American Samoa.

Taimalelagi wrote in a Feb. 24 letter to the FAA regarding updates on Port Administration's actions to address the inspection findings and recommendations, and at the same time requested additional time to more thoroughly formulate ASG’s corrective action plan.

"We recognize that a plan to resolve the findings and implement the recommendations requires collective effort and consensus among ASG departments, and the reconciliation of each department’s mission and goals within the context of the inspection’s objectives," Simpson wrote.

And with this awareness, Simpson said, the FAA has no objection to Taimalelagi’s request for an extension until Sept. 30, 2015 for the corrective action plan and other issues on the airport inspection report.

"...we shall stand ready to assist you in our shared goal to resolve the land use issues that prevent the airport from fully conforming to its federal grant assurance obligations," he said.

In the meantime, pending the ASG’s preparation and FAA approval of the corrective action plan, "we request that the ASG disallow any new land use or lease agreements in the 325 acre parcel which included the [Tafuna] industrial park," Simpson points out.

He said the FAA wishes to avoid complicating the formulation and successful implementation of a satisfactory corrective action effort.

Simpson reiterated that before ASG begins processing any new land-use proposal, to provide the FAA with a thorough description of the proposed land use "so we can determine if it, along with its terms and compensation, is compatible with federal requirements" and corrective action goals.

"We look forward to working cooperatively with ASG to reach agreement on a resolution plan that addresses federal requirements while sensitive to local law and customs," he added.

Copies of Simpson’s letter were also sent to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale.

BACKGROUND

The FAA airport land use report found, among other things, that the American Samoa Government had not complied with requirements in provisions of federal grants when more than 300 acres of land, initially dedicated for the airport, was transferred to other ASG agencies without Federal Aviation Administration approval.

According to the FAA’s Land Use Audit/Inspection Report, land dedicated to the airport was originally about 865 acres, until 1973. Thereafter, the airport was reduced to about 540 acres, a loss of approximately 325 acres which has since been used for various purposes including housing, parks, government facilities and commercial businesses.

Reducing the airport boundary, the report says, had a long-term negative impact on the financial viability of the airport, which lost the opportunity to benefit from the development of the land and the income it would produce.

It also says that ASG benefited from the transferred land, while the airport "became less self-sufficient and without the means to produce sufficient income to support all its capital and operating costs."

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment