Hawaiian Airlines Ordered Out

The governor of American Samoa, Togiola Tulafono, has ordered Hawaiian Airlines to withdraw from the territory within 90 days. Tagiola has been involved in a long running battle with the airline over its alleged poor service and high fares between Pago Pago and Honolulu. He has demanded that Hawaiian charge prices comparable to those paid by passengers flying between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii, or US$500 roundtrip to American Samoa, and that it increase the frequency of its flights.

In defense of its fares, Hawaiian Airlines has cited the high cost of serving American Samoa. According to the airline, the runways at Pago Pago International Airport are in a deplorable state of repair and the company has had to spend millions of dollars on repairs to their aircraft after three separate incidents over the past four years. Hawaiian has also complained about the high landing fees and fuel taxes imposed by the territory, plus stiff overtime payments to local airport officials.

It remains to be seen if Governor Togiola has the authority to order Hawaiian Airlines out of American Samoa, and even if he suceeds, who will replace them. Aloha Airlines abandoned the route several years ago after losing a lot of money, and several other airlines have had the same experience. It's unlikely another U.S. carrier will step in under these circumstances and foreign airlines are prohibited from carrying passengers between two U.S. airports under U.S. law. Togiola's populist grandstanding could well leave American Samoa with no direct air service to Hawaii at all.

<< Home